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Tuesday, June 26, 2012 – Grapes of Wrath

Grapes of Wrath by Sinclair NoeDOW + 32 = 12,534SPX + 6 = 1319NAS + 17 = 285410 YR YLD +.02 = 1.63%OIL +.23 = 79.59GOLD – 12.70 = 1573.60SILV – .43 = 27.21PLAT – 17.00 = 1433.00The S&P/Case-Shiller reports shows home prices rose 1.3% in April.  The Conference boards Consumer Confidence Index fell for a fourth straight month; the index hit 62 last month, which is still above average and better than last year at this time. We are not officially in the Dog Days of Summer; it just feels like it. The European Union has released a road map outlining the path to tighter fiscal integration. Nothing too flashy and it might take a year or more to implement. German Chancellor Angela Merkel  had played down large moves such as the issuance of common debt until euro-area countries agree to broad oversight of their budgets.  Egan Jones downgraded Germany from A+ to AA-. Today, Reuters reported Merkel told politicians in her ruling coalition that Europe would not have shared total debt liability “as long as I live.” So, that pretty much kills any idea of a euro-bond. Mario Monti, the technocratic non-elected Prime Minister of Italy now denies he said: “Eurobonds or I resign.” Meanwhile, Spanish and Italian bonds aren’t feeling healthy as yields rose again. Spain had to pay the highest yields since last November to sell 3.08 billion euros in short-term debt as demand from its ailing banks dwindled. Spain has officially requested a $125 billion dollar bank bailout. Details …

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Monday, June 25, 2012 – Spain and Cyprus Fall – US Banks Insure Bets – Goldman Behaves Badly – Congressional Insider Trading – by Sinclair Noe

DOW – 138 = 12,502SPX – 21 = 1313NAS – 56 = 283610 YR YLD -.06 = 1.61%OIL -.06 = 79.15GOLD + 13.00 = 1585.30SILV +.64 = 27.64PLAT + 9.00 = 1450.00So, the good news is that the Dow only dropped 138.It could have been worse; or better, depending on your perspective. Back in April we advised heeding the old advice to sell in May and stay away. May was a horrible month. The first couple of weeks in June, we bounced back just a little, then we continue the declines.This Euro-problem just never dies. There will be another emergency two day Euro-summit starting Thursday.  This appears to be the one area of relentless growth in Europe – the emergency summit business. I’m guessing that the caterers and event planners in Brussels are posting nifty profits. Expectations are low after Germany resisted pressure for common euro zone bonds or a flexible use of Europe’s rescue funds at a meeting of the region’s four biggest economies last week. Austerity measures pushed forward by Germany have tested the patience of the Greeks. The Greek government had to begin a search for a new finance minister after the nominee for the post said he could not serve because of health reasons. The situation in Greece sometimes seems it is never-ending. Cyprus announced it was seeking a bailout for its banks and its budget. Cyprus joins Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain in seeking EU rescue funds, meaning more than a quarter of the 17 euro …

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Friday, June 22, 2012 – Something About Mary – by Sinclair Noe

DOW + 67 = 12,640SPX + 9 = 1335NAS + 33 = 289210 YR YLD+.05 = 1.67%OIL + 13.92 = 92.12GOLD + 7.10 = 1573.30SILV +.02 = 27.00PLAT – 4.00 = 1441.00Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve paid attention to Jamie Dimon’s testimony on Capitol Hill. You might not have noticed the testimony of Mary Schapiro before the Senate before the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Schapiro is the Chairwoman of the SEC. Her testimony was a frank warning on the vulnerabilities of the money market fund system. You may remember that in September 2008, money market funds broke the buck; there was a run on funds held in money market accounts that was only staunched by a $3 trillion dollar guarantee from the Treasury and the Federal Reserve. Breaking the buck was a key part of the financial crisis. There were profound implications for a reputedly rock solid investment. The effects rippled throughout the economy as investors were shortchanged and sponsors were squeezed as they were forced to shore up valuations. Could we see another run on money market funds? We already have. It happened one year ago, a small scale run. And yes, it could happen again. And just because the run was stopped in 2008 and 2011, it is no guarantee another run could be contained in the future. There has basically been no reforms to prevent or control a future money market fund run. Here’s part of Schapiro’s testimony:“Given the role money market funds …

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Thursday, June 21, 2012 – Like Crack for Bankers – by Sinclair Noe

DOW – 250 = 12,573SPX – 30 = 1325NAS – 71 = 285910 YR YLD – .02 = 1.62%OIL – 3.20 = 78.25GOLD – 41.60 = 1566.20SILV – 1.24 = 26.98PLAT – 19.00 = 1445.00Here is the bottom line on today’s declines; Wall Street has become addicted to free money from the Federal Reserve. Stimulus from the Fed is like crack for the Wall Street bankers. Yesterday, the Fed refused to pass out more free money. Today, Wall Street got a bad case of the shakes.One of the concerns when Bernanke and pals fail to act is that they can’t really think of anything they might do that would have any real effect, or maybe they’re satisfied with 2% inflation and 8.2% unemployment. So what if Bernanke doesn’t have any more ammo?Then we are left to the devices of fiscal policy, in other words; what can the politicians in Washington do to stimulate the economy? The most likely answer is that the politicians can drive the economy over a cliff. While that might seem cynical, it’s really just pragmatic. And then, of course there is the Lehman Brothers event with subtitles looming in Europe. If Europe collapses, the thinking is that Bernanke will find a few more bullets in the form of QE3, and he will once again toss money at the Wall Street bankers. The Wall Street crack whores will fire up their pipes and place “risk-on” trades with the certainty that the Fed will place a put against any …

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012 – A Twisted World – by Sinclair Noe

DOW  – 12 = 12,824SPX – 2= 1355NAS +0.69 = 293010 YR YLD +.02 = 1.64%OIL – 3.25 = 81.10GOLD – 11.10 = 1607.80SILV – .30 = 28.22PLAT – 23.00 = 1464.00Quite frankly the Federal Reserve FOMC meetings have become a bit too predictable. They didn’t lower interest rates because rates are already at zero. They didn’t raise interest rates because that would be a total freak out and the financial markets would collapse. The Fed does not have an exit plan from their zero interest rate policy. They didn’t announce QE3 because that would be a blatant destruction of the currency which would send the price of gold soaring; also because they are holding back and waiting just in case Europe hits the self destruct button. The Fed expanded Operation Twist by $267 billion, meaning it will sell short-term securities and buy long-term ones in an effort to keep borrowing costs down. The program, which was due to expire this month, will now run through the end of the year. Operation Twist is a wash; it really doesn’t cost anything; they buy, they sell, it all equals out. The next question is whether Operation Twist actually does anything. Here the results are inconclusive. Long term rates are at historic lows but we don’t know if rates would have been low even without Operation Twist. Perhaps the most pathetic part of the FOMC statement was this: “Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability. The …

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012 – A Twisted World – by Sinclair Noe

DOW  – 12 = 12,824SPX – 2= 1355NAS +0.69 = 293010 YR YLD +.02 = 1.64%OIL – 3.25 = 81.10GOLD – 11.10 = 1607.80SILV – .30 = 28.22PLAT – 23.00 = 1464.00Quite frankly the Federal Reserve FOMC meetings have become a bit too predictable. They didn’t lower interest rates because rates are already at zero. They didn’t raise interest rates because that would be a total freak out and the financial markets would collapse. The Fed does not have an exit plan from their zero interest rate policy. They didn’t announce QE3 because that would be a blatant destruction of the currency which would send the price of gold soaring; also because they are holding back and waiting just in case Europe hits the self destruct button. The Fed expanded Operation Twist by $267 billion, meaning it will sell short-term securities and buy long-term ones in an effort to keep borrowing costs down. The program, which was due to expire this month, will now run through the end of the year. Operation Twist is a wash; it really doesn’t cost anything; they buy, they sell, it all equals out. The next question is whether Operation Twist actually does anything. Here the results are inconclusive. Long term rates are at historic lows but we don’t know if rates would have been low even without Operation Twist. Perhaps the most pathetic part of the FOMC statement was this: “Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability. The …

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012 – There is No Escape for the Fed – by Sinclair Noe

06192012 ScriptDOW + 95 = 12,837SPX + 13 = 1357NAS + 34 = 292910 YR YLD +.04 = 1.62%OIL – .12 = 84.23GOLD – 10.80 = 1618.90SILV – .32 = 28.52PLAT – 2.00 = 1487.00The Federal Reserve FOMC is meeting today and tomorrow to determine monetary policy for the next few weeks. Here is what they will probably say tomorrow. They won’t lower interest rates; interest rates are at zero; interest rates are actually already negative when you consider the effects of inflation. Operation Twist is scheduled to expire in about two weeks. The idea behind Operation Twist is that the Fed sells shorter-term securities and buys longer-term securities with the goal of reducing long-term interest rates to encourage borrowing and spending. The yield on the 10-year note is 1.62%, so rates are pretty low even though the Twist hasn’t been able to encourage a big round of borrowing and spending. Low interest rates alone have not been enough to create demand. Operation Twist is the Fed pushing on a string – which is to say, supply side economics is a crock.Here’s the conundrum for the Fed – how do they exit Operation Twist without creating a problem, possibly unwinding those nice, ultra-low interest rates? The Fed might announce a limited extension of the Twist, maybe to September or they might just offer a soft extension – saying something like: “we will monitor long-term rates and stand ready to maintain stability”. As far as QE3 – not likely. Europe hasn’t collapsed, …

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Monday, June 18, 2012 – G-20 Declares Ceviche Tasty and Democracy Messy – by Sinclair Noe

DOW – 25 = 12,741SPX +1 = 1344NAS + 22 = 289510 YR YLD un=1.58%OIL -.26 = 83.01GOLD + 2.00 = 1629.70SILV un= 28.84PLAT – 1.00 = 1489.00The results of the Greek election shows conservative New Democracy taking 29 percent, with the radical leftist Syriza bloc just behind on 27. The Pasok Socialists were set to take 12 percent of the vote. The scenario is similar to the results of an earlier round of voting. ND also came in first in May 6 elections, again with Syriza running a close second, but failed to form a government then. And 38% of eligible voters did not vote yesterday; that’s more votes than any one party received. The headlines say that a pro-bailout, pro-remain in the Euro-union party won the Greek elections; it’s not that simple. There was no majority. The next step is for New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras to form a coalition government; not an easy or certain task, and it must be done within the next 10 days. Look for a combo of the New Democracy conservatives and  the Pasok socialists; the same group that governed Greece into this mess in the first place. Pasok, the Socialist party, called for a government that would include Syriza, the far left party, but  Syriza ruled out joining a coalition that would stick to the punishing bailout terms that have helped condemn Greece to five years of record recession. Alexix Tsipras, the leader of Syriza, had vowed to tear up the terms, betting that …

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Friday, June 15, 2012 – Greeks Look for a Bargain – by Sinclair Noe

DOW  +115 = 12,767SPX + 13 = 1342NAS + 36 = 287210 YR YLD -.02 = 1.59%OIL – 1.11 = 82.80GOLD + 3.40 = 1627.70SILV + .10 = 28.84PLAT – 8.00 = 1490.00Sunday there will be an election in Greece. I don’t know how the election will turn out. I can’t find any consensus opinion. There may not be a consensus, even if there is a definitive winner. It appears the extremes are gaining in Europe because centrist parties are offering voters no meaningful choices. Pasok and ND (New Democracy) and Syriza. New Democracy is the old-guard conservative party; Pasok is the old-guard socialist party; Syriza is the new-upstart far left party. Golden Dawn is the new-upstart far right/neo-nazi party but they went to far during a televised debate last week when a spokesman started beating a woman on camera – that went too far and destroyed that fringe element. For Greeks that want to vote against the status quo they have no alternative but to vote for extremists. Right now it looks like New Democracy and Syriza will get the most votes, but not a majority, so they will have to pull together a coalition government, which they failed to do one month ago. But again, the election could swing in any number of unusual ways. Some common themes from Greek voters is that they feel they are being blackmailed into voting for parties that drove the economy into a ditch and blindly imposed austerity measures. The Euro-zone support for …

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Thursday, June 14, 2012 – Just In Case There is a Glitch in the Vote – by Sinclair Noe

DOW + 155 = 112,651SPX + 14 = 1329NAS + 17 = 283610 YR YLD +.01 = 1.61 OIL +.44 = 84.35GOLD + 5.70 = 1624.30SILV – .22 = 28.74PLAT + 27.00 = 1498.00All righty class, it is time for a pop quiz. Please answer the following question: What is the Ironclad Rule of Wall Street?Put down you pencils.And the answer is: Wall Street loves free money.And where does free money come from? And the answer is: Central banks. If you answered the Federal Reserve and Helicopter Ben, give yourself a partial credit; if you answered taxpayers, give yourself partial credit; while those answers are technically correct it is outdated and more than a tad provincial. Think bigger, think globally.Today, Greek bank stocks surged more than 20 percent, with speculators betting on a favorable pro-bailout outcome after Sunday’s election. The action there drew the attention of traders on Wall Street. Officials from the G-20 confirmed today that the central banks from major economies stand ready to take steps to stabilize financial markets by providing liquidity and preventing a credit squeeze if the outcome of Greek elections on Sunday causes tumultuous trading even if the Greek election will not provide “the definitive signal on what happens next” in the euro-zone economic crisis.The Greek election is Sunday and then there is a G20 summit of world leaders in Los Cabos, Mexico, on Monday and Tuesday, with Europe’s escalating crisis topping the agenda. Leaders will be accompanied by finance ministers playing an advisory role. Depending on …

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