Are Cryptocurrencies Inflationary?

There’s a debate raging over what, exactly, bitcoin and the thousand or so other cryptocurrencies actually are. Some heavy-hitters are weighing in with strong, if not always coherent opinions:
Jamie Dimon calls bitcoin a ‘fraud’
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon did not mince words when asked about the popularity of virtual currency bitcoin.
Dimon said at an investment conference that the digital currency was a ‘fraud’ and that his firm would fire anyone at the bank that traded it ‘in a second.’ Dimon said he supported blockchain technology for tracking payments but that trading bitcoin itself was against the bank’s rules. He added that bitcoin was ‘stupid’ and ‘far too dangerous.’
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Peter Schiff: Even at $4,000 bitcoin is still a bubble
One of the best-known among the bears, investor Peter Schiff, is now making his case in even stronger terms for why bitcoin has advanced ever farther into bubble territory.
Schiff, who predicted the 2008 mortgage crisis, famously referred to bitcoin as digital fool’s gold and compared the cryptocurrency to the infamous bubble in Beanie Babies.

This post was published at DollarCollapse on OCTOBER 22, 2017.

Gary Cohn is Concerned about Wall Street Clearinghouses – Blockchain is Already Fixing it

Gary Cohn, chief economic adviser to the President, voiced concern over the weekend about risk posed by Wall Street clearinghouses that became systemically important following the 2008 financial crisis.
As Bloomberg reported:
As ‘we get less transparency, we get less liquid assets in the clearinghouse, it does start to resonate to me to be a new systemic problem in the system,’ Cohn, director of the White House’s National Economic Council, said at a banking conference in Washington on Sunday.
Cohn isn’t the first to raise the risk. JPMorgan Chase & Co. and BlackRock Inc. have argued for years that clearinghouses pose their own threats, shifting risk to just a handful of entities. The Treasury Department’s Office of Financial Research has warned that clearinghouses used for derivatives trades can be vulnerable and potentially spread risks through the financial system.
While it is worth noting that this is another example of how the government’s response to a crisis they created made the economy as a whole more fragile, the good news for Mr. Cohn is that there is an exciting technological breakthrough that allows people to transparently move money without relying upon third parties to guard against shady counterparties: blockchain.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on October 17, 2017.

BofA Beats Despite 22% Plunge in FICC Revenue, Credit Loss Provision Jumps 15%

Mirroring the pattern set by JPM and Citi yesterday, Bank of America reported revenue and earnings that modestly beat expectations, with Q3 revenue of $21.8BN and $22.1BN on an adjusted, FTE basis, just above the $21.9BN consensus estimate, generating net income of $5.6 billion (up 13% Y/Y), and EPS of $0.48, above the $0.46 estimate, and higher than the $0.41 reported Y/Y, even as sales and trading revenues slumped, and FICC revenue tumbled by 19%.
Net interest income increased 9% for the second consecutive quarter, or $1.0B, to $11.4B. BofA achieved this as its Net Interest Yield (i.e. NIM) rose fractionally from 2.34% in Q2 to 2.36% in Q3, a number just barely higher than the 2.35% expected. As the bank explained, the Net Interest Income increased “reflecting the benefits from higher short-end interest rates, loan growth and one additional interest accrual day, partially offset by higher deposit pricing in GWIM and the full quarter impact from the sale of the non-U. S. consumer credit card business.”
BofA also gave the following interest rate sensitivity as of Sept 30: “+100bps parallel shift in interest rate yield curve is estimated to benefit NII by $3.2B over the next 12 months, driven primarily by sensitivity to short-end interest rates.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 13, 2017.

The “Missing Slide”: JPM Credit Card Charge-Offs Just Shy Of Four Year Highs

While JPM was quick to provide all the favorable data in its earnings presentation (and not so favorable when it comes to the unexpectedly sharp, 27% drop in its fixed income revenues) one thing was conspicuously missing: the slide on “Mortgage Banking And Card Services” which has traditionally been part of the bank’s earnings presentation and was certainly featured prominently in Q1, if dropped last quarter.
Of course, it is possible that JPM simply forgot to include it, or perhaps it did not want to bring attention to a troubling trend: the concerning increase in net credit card charge-offs, which earlier in the year rose to just shy of $1 billion, and which prompted JPM to report an unexpected increase in credit costs (driven also by JPM’s write-down in its student loan portfolio).
So we decided to recreate the chart using data JPM disclosed in its earnings supplement, and which may explain why JPM “forgot” to add that particular slide. It shows that after rising to the highest level since March 2013 last quarter, JPM’s net credit card chargeoffs remained over $1 billion as of Sept 30, at $1.019BN to be precise, and just shy of the highest level going back to March 2013, suggesting that contrary to Jamie Dimon’s commentary, the US consumer is not doing all that hot after all.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 12, 2017.

Global Stocks Hit New Record High, Dollar Mixed After Dovish Fed

In a trend observed every day this week, S&P futures are slightly in the red ahead of a post-open ramp with the VIX rising to 9.91, as Asian shares climb, European stocks are little changed. WTI crude pares recent gains, slipping below $51 after API showed an unexpected crude build. Earnings season launches with bank earnings reports from JPMorgan and Citigroup, while Economic data include PPI figures, jobless claims.
As Reuters notes, broader investor risk sentiment has improved this week after Catalonia dialed back plans to break away from Spain, with MSCI’s 47-country world stocks index reaching a record high. Global equities now appear to be taking geopolitical developments such as the secessionist push in Spain and tensions on the Korean peninsula in their stride, to reach those record tops.
Analysts will be keeping a close eye on banks Q3 reports: Trading probably dropped from the same period a year earlier. Executives from JPMorgan, Citigroup and Bank of America Corp. told investors last month to expect declines ranging from 15 percent to 20 percent. Goldman Sachs Group Inc., coming off its worst first half for the trading business in more than a decade, said the third quarter remained challenging. Subdued volatility, especially compared with the turmoil from Brexit and the U. S. election a year earlier — made the period particularly tough.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 12, 2017.

Goldman Is Allowing Its Clients To Bet On The Next Financial Crisis

Just over a decade ago, as the S&P was hitting all time highs and there was a line around the block of 30-some year old hedge fund managers, desperate to put other people’s money in various ultra risky investments just so they could pick a few excess bps of yield over Treasurys – a situation painfully familiar to what is going on now – Goldman had an epiphany: create new synthetic products that have huge convexity, i.e., provide little upside (such as a few basis points pick up in yield) versus unlimited downside, link them to the shittiest assets possible and sell them to gullible, yield-chasing idiots (collecting a transaction fee) while taking the other side of the trade (collecting a huge profit once everything crashes). The instruments, of course, were CDOs, and not long after Goldman sold a whole of them, the financial system crashed and needed a multi-trillion bailout from which the world has not recovered since.
Ten years later, Goldman is doing it again, only instead of targeting subprime mortgages, this time the bank has focused on quasi-insolvent European banks.
And just like right before the last financial crash, Goldman is once again allowing its clients to profit from the upcoming collapse, or as Bloomberg puts it, “less than a decade after the last major banking crisis, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan are offering investors a new way to bet on the next one.”
The trade in question is a total return swap, a highly levered product which is similar or a credit default swap but has some nuanced differences, which targets what are known as Tier 1 , or AT1 or “buffer” notes issued by European banks, and which usually are the first to get wiped out when there is even a modest insolvency event (just ask Banco Popular), let alone a full blown financial crisis.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 12, 2017.

GATA: Those Who Deny Gold / Silver Manipulation Won’t Answer Basic Questions

IRD Note: For nearly two decades, GATA has seized on Frank Veneroso’s original research which provided first-hand evidence that Central Banks were actively operating to suppress the gold and has presented direct evidence of precious metals manipulation. Beyond this, there are public admissions from Henry Kissinger and Alan Greenspan acknowledging this fact. Unfortunately, those who deny that gold/silver are manipulated have never offered any response to the direct proof that Central Banks intervene directly in gold trading. The article below presenting just the facts was published by GATA.
Newsletter writer Steve Saville of The Speculative Investor, who long has denied that manipulation of the monetary metals markets means much, has seized on the recent essay by Keith Weiner of Monetary Metals as the conclusive refutation of silver market analyst Ted Butler’s longstanding complaint that JPMorganChase has been rigging the silver market.
Weiner’s analysis, headlined ‘Thoughtful Disagreement with Ted Butler’ and posted here – LINK – argued that JPMorganChase is undertaking only ordinary arbitrage in the silver market, exploiting spreads between bid and ask prices.
Saville, in commentary headlined ‘A Silver Price-Suppression Theory Gets Debunked’ – LINK – cheers Weiner’s essay and goes on to remark: ‘Entering a debate with someone who is incapable of being swayed by evidence that invalidates his position is a waste of time and energy, so these days I devote no commentary space and minimal blog space to debunking the manipulation-centric gold and silver articles that regularly appear.’

This post was published at Investment Research Dynamics on October 9, 2017.

Global Markets Bounce As Germany, China, Spain Lift World Stocks, Turkey Crash Ignored

With no North Korean nuclear test over the weeknd contrary to a Friday morning rumor, S&P futures rebounded and edged higher as European stocks gain, led by Spanish shares after mass demonstrations in favor of Spanish unity and speculation Catalonia may back down on unilateral independence demands, while Chinese mainland stocks reopened catching up to gains missed during the holiday week following last weekend’s RRR cut.
World shares rose to start the week, with Chinese stocks hitting 21-month highs and the German index setting a new record, while political uncertainty triggered big moves in sterling, the Turkish lira and Spanish debt. US futures are also pushing higher in anticipation of the start of Q3 earnings season which begins later this week, with a number of Wall Street banks including JPMorgan, BofA and Citi set to report. While equities are open, the US bond market is closed today for the Columbus day holiday, while Asian markets were relatively quiet following holidays in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
European stocks climbed at the start of a week in which investors were closely watching developments in Catalonia as well as U. S. earnings season kicks off. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index adds 0.23%, following four straight weeks of gains. All industry groups except miners climb. The IBEX 35 Index is up 1% as a senior member in the Catalan administration calls for dialogue with Spain, although the gauge is still down 1.2% since Catalans voted for independence in an illegal referendum. After a weekend of mass demonstrations in favor of Spanish unity, Raul Romeva, foreign affairs chief for the separatist government in Barcelona, insisted that the door was open for talks if Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was willing to grasp the opportunity
As Bloomberg breaks down local markets, 18 out of 19 Stoxx 600 sectors rise; 407 Stoxx 600 members gain, 171 decline. Top Stoxx 600 outperformers include: CaixaBank +2.6%, Centamin +2.5%, TDC +2.4%, Man Group +2.4%, Metro Bank +2.0%. The Stoxx Euro 600 Index also received a boost from data showing German industrial output rebounded from a summer lull with its best month in six years. The euro nudged higher, while most European bonds rose. Gold climbed and crude oil erased earlier gains.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 9, 2017.

Which American Cities Will File Bankruptcy Next?

We harp on the massive, unsustainable, yet largely unnoticed, debt burdens of American cities, counties and states fairly regularly because, well, it’s a frightening issue if you spend just a little time to understand the math and ultimate consequences. Here is some of our recent posts on the topic:
America’s Pension Bomb: Illinois Is Just the Start Stanford Says Soaring Public Pension Costs Devastating Budgets For Education And Social Services Pension Consultant Offers Dire Outlook For Kentucky: Freeze Pension And Slash Benefits Or Else Luckily, for those looking to escape the trauma of being taxed into oblivion by their failing cities/counties/states, JP Morgan has provided a comprehensive guide on which municipalities haven’t the slightest hope of surviving their multi-decade debt binge and lavish public pension awards.
If you live in any of the ‘red’ cities below, it just might be time to start looking for another home…

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 5, 2017.

Thoughtful Disagreement with Ted Butler

Dear Mr. Butler, in your article of 2 October, entitled Thoughtful Disagreement, you say:
‘Someone will come up with the thoughtful disagreement that makes the body of my premise invalid or the price of silver will validate the premise by exploding.’
I will take you up on your request. You state your case in this paragraph:
‘Here are the issues. Silver (and gold) prices are set by paper dealings on the COMEX by a few large speculators (banks and managed money traders), to the exclusion of input from real producers and consumers, making the price discovery process and the resultant price artificial. For the past nearly ten years, CFTC data have indicated that JPMorgan has been the dominant paper silver short seller, along with a few other large banks and as a result of that dominance and control none have ever taken a loss when adding short positions. In addition, for the past six and a half years, JPMorgan has accumulated a massive amount of actual silver (650 million oz) at rock-bottom and self-created depressed prices, all while never taking a loss while shorting silver on the COMEX.’
In other words, the four issues are:
the price of silver is set exclusively in the futures market (throughout my article, I will refer to silver but what I say is equally applicable to gold also)

This post was published at Acting-Man on October 5, 2017.

Macquarie Identifies The Winners And Losers Of MiFID II

Macquarie’s equity research team has just offered up a valuable economics lesson which seems to perfectly, if inconveniently, explain why their business model is doomed by the upcoming implementation of MiFID II.
So what happens when you compete in a ‘slightly’ fragmented market (see below) to sell a highly commoditized product to a customer that places so little value on the product that it has historically only existed courtesy of subsidies from trading revenues…then a regulatory body suddenly comes along and says you have survive as an independent operation?

Well, as Macquarie notes today, almost everyone, particularly those in an equity research group, loses.
As equity research analysts, we can’t close the review of MiFID II implementation without discussing the implications of research unbundling, by which asset managers will have to pay separately for execution and trading. Here are a few points that have emerged as consensual on a number of white papers and articles: P&L method over RPA. An increasingly large number of leading asset managers already announced they will internalise the cost of research in their P&L instead of charging it separately to investors via Research Payment Accounts that are seen as overly cumbersome to implement. The list includes, in alphabetical order, Allianz Global, Aviva, Axa IM, BlackRock, Deutsche AM, Franklin Templeton, HSBC AM, Invesco, Janus Henderson, JPMorgan AM, M&G, Robeco, Schroders, Standard Life, T Rowe Price, UBS and Union (please see live list here).

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 5, 2017.

Yahoo Hacking Highlights Cyber Risk and Increasing Importance of Physical Gold

– Yahoo admits every single one of 3 billion accounts hacked in 2013 data theft
– Equifax hacking and security breach exposes half of the U. S. population
– Some 143 million people vulnerable to identity theft
– Deloitte hack compromised sensitive emails and client data
– JP Morgan hacked and New York Fed hacked and robbed
– International hacking group steals $300 million
– Global digital banking and financial system not secure
***
Editor Mark O’Byrne
Imagine there was a chemical disaster at a factory. The surrounding water and air supply are affected over hundreds of miles. Thousands of people, if not more, are affected.
There would be a national response. Governments would step in to ask why this had happened, how it was going to be dealt with and how it would be prevented.
More importantly, those affected would be notified with immediate effect. The responsible company would not set up a website inviting potential victims to log on with personal details in order to find out if and how badly they have been affected.
And if the company did do this then people and the government wouldn’t stand for it.
Imagine that another disaster happens a few months later, at another company. But it turns out the dangerous chemicals have been leaking into the environment for possibly the previous three months.

This post was published at Gold Core on October 5, 2017.

Comex Silver “Deliveries” Surge In September

Though Comex metal “delivery” remains a sham and circle jerk where The Banks simply shuffle paper warehouse receipts and warrants, we thought the latest totals for September were noteworthy enough to bring them to your attention.
Again, we’ve written about this on countless occasions and this post is not meant to imply that “the Comex is about to break” or that “there is a run on The Banks”. Instead, September saw the continuation of two trends of which you need to be aware. Comex “deliveries” are up dramatically in 2017 and JPM continues to stand down.
First, take a look at the historical pattern of “deliveries” during the so-called “delivery months” of March, May, July, September and December. Below is a summary of the “delivery” activity for 2015:

This post was published at TF Metals Report on October 3, 2017.

Active Bond Traders Have Never Been More Short Treasurys: Is A Squeeze Imminent?

Yesterday, when discussing Crispin Odey’s letter to clients and what appears to be his “Hail Mary” trade, we pointed out that according to his latest client letter, the billionaire hedge fund manager has effectively bet everything on a plunge in bond prices, with a whopping 135% net short in gilts and JGBs.
We noted that, in light of recent shifts mostly among the CTA and hedge fund crowd, he is hardly alone in his mega bearish outlook on bonds.
Sure enough, according to the latest JPMorgan survey (for the week through Oct. 2) the bank’s clients as a whole have dramatically soured on Treasuries, with 44% holding a short position relative to their benchmark, the most since 2006, or before the financial crisis, and up from 30 percent in the prior period. Among those who actively place bets, such as speculative accounts, a record 70% were short, while an unprecedented (and impossible) 0% responded that they were long: in other words, everyone is on the same side of the boat.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 3, 2017.

Bond Traders Place Biggest Short in Treasuries Since Fed’s ZIRP and QE Began (Zirp The Surveyor)

(Bloomberg) – After the worst losses for Treasuries in 10 months, investors are ramping up bets that the world’s largest bond market will decline further.
A JPMorgan Chase & Co. survey for the week through Oct. 2 found that clients as a whole soured on Treasuries, with 44 percent holding a short position relative to their benchmark. That’s the most since 2006 and up from 30 percent in the prior period. Among those who actively place bets, such as speculative accounts, a record 70 percent were short.
The shift shows how a confluence of factors is weighing on the minds of bond traders as the fourth quarter begins. The Federal Reserve will start unwinding its balance sheet this month, and Chair Janet Yellen has signaled that stubbornly low inflation won’t deter policy makers from tightening. Meanwhile, in the betting markets, former Fed Governor Kevin Warsh, seen by some traders as having a more hawkish tilt, has the highest odds to succeed Yellen.

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on October 3, 2017.

Kolanovic: “This Is What The Next Crisis Will Look Like”

There are two distinct parts to the latest, just released research note from JPM’s quant “wizard” Marko Kolanovic.
In the first part, the infamous predictor of market swoons takes on an unexpectedly cheerful demeanor, and explains why contrary to his recent market outlooks, near-term risks for a market selloff appear to have abated. First, he looks at the tax-related rotations within the market in the past month, and notes that in September “the administration drip-fed US tax reform news, which propped up the market and spurred large sector rotations.” As a result, “financials, Industrials, and Materials were up ~5%, Energy ~9% and Small Caps ~7%. On the other side of the Tax trade were bond proxies (Utilities, Staples, REITs) down ~2-3% and Technology-heavy Nasdaq that was down ~0.5%. These offsetting sector moves reduced the typically elevated September volatility to its lowest level since 1964.”
He then goes on to note that in addition to the tax rotations, “volatility was reduced as market rose and got pinned at the 2,500 level for most of the month (this level was popular with option sellers, leaving dealers locally long gamma).”
Picking up on what Deutsche Bank’s Aleksandar Kocic has been writing about in recent weeks, namely the apparent failure of “exogenous shocks to shock the market”, as shocks themselves become endogenous phenomena, Kolanovic also writes that in fading daily headline risk, “tax reform and infrastructure will remain a central focus for investors, and it seems that bits and pieces of information can still excite fund managers”, something he previously called the ‘Trump Put’ effect.
As a result, between rotations and fundamentals, the coast – at least for the near-term – appears to be clear:
“With the upcoming positive Q3 earnings season, uptick in global growth, promise of tax reform keeping fundamental funds invested, and low volatility keeping systematic strategies invested, near-term risks of a sell-off have abated.”
Putting this view into a trade recommendation, Kolanovic says that “our equity market upside trades include upside on Small Caps, Financials, Value and diversified tax-beneficiaries basket.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 3, 2017.

Goldman Shuns JPMorgan’s Dimon – Plans Bitcoin Trading Operation

GOLDMAN SACHS SAID TO WEIGH BITCOIN TRADING OPERATION: WSJ
wait what… pic.twitter.com/WKyrfDIHca
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) October 2, 2017

While JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said he “would fire” any employee found trading Bitcoin, Goldman Sachs’ leadership is embracing reality as WSJ reports the bank is weighing a new trading operation dedicated to bitcoin and other digital currencies.
On the heels of IMF Chief Christine Lagarde’s comments that:
“… the technology itself can replace national monies, conventional financial intermediation, and even puts a question mark on the fractional banking model we know today… So I think it may not be wise to dismiss virtual currencies.”
Bitcoin’s price has continued higher – erasing the losses from China and Jamie Dimon’s comments…

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 2, 2017.

LBMA Silver Price Benchmark – Changes, but no Wider Participation

LBMA Silver Price Benchmark – Changes, but no Wider Participation On 21 September, ICE Benchmark Administration (IBA) announced that it will take over the administration of the daily LBMA Silver Price benchmark auction beginning Monday 2 October. This LBMA Silver Price auction is the successor to the former London Silver Fix auction. The auction takes the form of trading unallocated silver positions on an electronic platform. The resulting price from the daily auction provides a daily silver price reference rate or benchmark which is used widely throughout the global precious metals industry. It is also now a Regulated Benchmark, regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority.
Bizarrely, even though it has now been more than 3 years since this new LBMA Silver Price auction was launched, there are still only 7 direct participants in the auction, a fact which flies in the face of all the previous promises from the LBMA that the rejuvenated silver auction would allow dramatically wider auction participation. These 7 participants are HSBC, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, Bank of Nova Scotia – ScotiaMocatta, UBS Toronto Dominion Bank, and China Construction Bank.
Even more surprisingly, from 2 October, ICE states that only 5 of these 7 bullion banks, namely HSBC, JP Morgan, the Bank of Nova Scotia, Toronto Dominion Bank, and Morgan Stanley, will continue to participate, with UBS and China Construction Bank staying on these sidelines because they do not currently have the IT systems in place to process cleared auction trades, a clearing procedure which ICE will be introducing to the auction. Two other commodity trading companies INTL FCStone and Jane Street, will however, join the auction on 2 October. INTL FCStone and Jane Street also recently joined the LBMA Gold Price auction as direct participants.
Beyond the continued exclusion of the vast majority of global silver participants from the auction, the very fact that a new administrator has had to be drafted in to run this LBMA Silver Price auction is itself noteworthy, as is the ultra-secretive way in which ICE has been selected as the new auction administrator.

This post was published at Bullion Star on 28 Sep 2017.