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Thursday, May 24, 2012 – Banks Issue Instructions for the Euro-Crisis – by Sinclair Noe

DOW + 33 = 12,529SPX + 1 = 1320NAS – 10 = 283910 YR YLD +.04 = 1.76%OIL +.95 = 90.85GOLD – 4.50 = 1558.80SILV +.48 = 28.42PLAT – 7.00 = 1424.00 The Dow Industrials moved lower this morning, then recovered, then dropped, then rallied into the close. Stocks moved down, up, down, up. If you can figure out what it means, send me a note. I’m not sure it means much. Treasury prices declined a little and yields inched up. The Treasury Department sold 7-year notes at auction. One economic report today showed 370,000 people filed for first-time jobless claims last week. Another report showed durable good orders rose 0.2% in April. Nobody was surprised by the reports. The euro jumped up against the Swiss Franc on rumors the Swiss government might implement a tax on Swiss franc-denominated deposits. In the past the biggest argument against a tax was that it would drive Swiss banking activity off shore. So, how does a rumor like that get rolling? Well, there are wheelbarrows full of euros being deposited into Swiss banks right now. Meanwhile, JPMorgan issued a report on the European Central Bank, or maybe they issued instructions; I’m not sure which. The economic downturn will lead the ECB to ease monetary policy even further with a combination of interest rate cuts and another round of the LTRO, Long -Term Refinance Operation, also known as Free Money. Of course, if the ECB lowers rates and injects more liquidity into the banking …

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Thursday, May 17, 2012 – Banks Start to Run – by Sinclair Noe

DOW – 156 = 12,442SPX – 19 = 1304NAS – 60 = 281310 YR YLD -.06 = 1.70%OIL +.17 = 92.73GOLD + 34.00 = 1575.30SILV +.78 = 28.15PLAT + 19.00 = 1459.00 The Dow Industrials have now dropped for 11 out of the past 12 trading sessions, giving back all the gains going back to the start of the year. Greece’s caretaker Cabinet was sworn in this morning and they’ll hold power at least until next month’s election.  The European Central Bank has stopped providing funds to Greek banks. People have been pulling euros out of the Greek banks, concerned about a possible exit from the Euro-zone common currency and a return to the Drachma, which would be an effective devaluation. So Greek citizens take their money out the front door of the bank and the ECB refuses to replenish supplies, and something has to give. There will be an election in about one month. There will be attempts to find a resolution. German Chancellor Merkel is even considering lifting the jackboot of austerity from the necks of the Greeks. It is one thing to demand fealty, it is another to consider the very real possibility of a Greek exit from the Euro-union. Germans are starting to realize that a Greek exit from the Euro-union will be very expensive. Everybody is now doing a study to determine how much a Greek exit might cost; the numbers seem to run in the trillions. So, why not find a cheaper solution? Which …

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012 – An All Out Jog to the Finish – by Sinclair Noe

DOW – 33= 12,598SPX – 5 = 1324NAS – 19 = 287410 YR YLD -.01 = 1.76%OIL – 1.16 = 92.82GOLD – 4.00 = 1541.30SILV -.45 = 27.37PLAT + 3.00 = 1439.00 A Judge has been appointed to lead Greece until the next round of elections in June; leading Greece is a misnomer. The judge will be the caretaker prime minister, replacing another caretaker prime minister. Yesterday, we told you about the run on the banks. On Monday, Greeks pulled out about $900 million dollars, Euros actually. Makes sense. If you think your country will exit or be kicked out of the Euro-union, and be forced back to the drachma at about half the value, you might want to grab some Euros and hold on. Having the actually paper money in your hands prevents the banks from cutting the value in half; banks will do that sort of thing. Right now, it’s not really a bank run, more of a jog. Paul Krugman explained why it is a problem: “Where are the euros coming from? Basically, banks are borrowing them from the Greek central bank, which in turn must borrow them from the European Central Bank. The question then becomes how far the ECB is willing to go here; is it willing, in effect, to lend enough money to buy up the entire balance sheet of the Greek banking sector, given the likelihood that this sector will be left insolvent by Greek default? Yet if the ECB says no more, …

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012 – JPMorgan is Scary, the California Budget is Easy – by Sinclair Noe

05152012 Script DOW – 63 = 12,632SPX – 7 = 1330NAS – 8 = 289310 YR YLD =.01 = 1.78% OIL – .57 = 93.41GOLD – 12.20 = 1545.30SILV -.46 = 27.82PLAT – 5.00 = 1437.00 So, JPMorgan shareholders held their annual meeting. They decided to pay Jamie Dimon $23 million. They can still afford it; despite a $2 billion dollar loss, JPMorgan is still the largest publicly traded company, the largest bank in the US, and the largest derivatives dealer in the world. JPMorgan invented credit default swaps, they wrote the legislation to reform the derivatives markets, and when JPMorgan went insolvent in the 1980s and in 2007, they were bailed out by taxpayers.A $2 billion dollar loss is not the end of the world, JPMorgan is not in imminent danger, but I don’t think this will end well. The really scary part isn’t the loss, but that it only represents one-tenth of the annualized profit. What are they doing to make that kind of money? And if these are supposed to be the best and brightest bankers, what does it say about the others? The FBI has opened an investigation into the trading losses. We don’t know what the FBI is looking at and I won’t hold my breath waiting. The SEC has opened an inquiry into JPMorgan’s disclosures and accounting practices. JP Morgan maintains that the purpose of the trades that resulted in the $2 billion loss was to hedge exposure elsewhere, as opposed to being proprietary …

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Monday, April 23, 2012 European Debate Austerity v. Growth, Walmart in Mexico, Apple in Seattle

DOW – 102 = 12,927SPX – 11 = 1366NAS – 30 = 297010 YR YLD – .04 = 1.93%OIL +.03 = 103.14GOLD – 4.10 = 1639.30SILV – .84 = 30.86PLAT – 22.00 = 1565.00 There is some uncertainty in Europe. Sarkozy is losing the election in France; the Dutch government has collapsed, and the debt continues to mount and the austerity plans aren’t working and the natives are getting restless. In France, Sarkozy came in second behind Francois Hollande, the Socialist candidate and a harsh critic of the spending cuts prescribed as a way to end the region’s debt crisis. This was the first round of voting and there will be a runoff election on May 6th. Hollande won 28.6 percent to Sarkozy’s 27.1 percent; Hollande has the momentum. Voter frustration with the status quo and with the E.U. fed a rise of support for extremes at both ends of the political scale, making potential kingmakers out of 11 million voters who supported candidates of the far right and left. Sarkozy and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel have been the main architects of Europe’s efforts to avoid a collapse of the region’s shared currency. If Sarkozy loses, it means Merkel might not last. If both Sarkozy and Merkel lose power, we’ve got a whole new situation. Figures reported by the European Union’s statistics office confirmed the effects of budget-cutting programs on countries that use the euro currency. Even with widespread spending cuts, overall debt rose to 87.2 percent, the highest level since …

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

DOW + 181 = 12,986 SPX + 18 = 1387NAS + 39 = 3055 10 YR YLD +.02 = 2.05%OIL +.08 = 103.72GOLD + 15.60 = 1676.30SILV + .77 = 32.48PLAT + 20.00 = 1611.00 The Federal Reserve Propaganda Tour continued last night with performances by Janet Yellen and William Dudley, the head of the New York Fed. Dudley said, “we cannot lose sight of the fact that the economy still faces significant headwinds and that there are some meaningful downside risks… the incoming data on the U.S. economy has been a bit more upbeat of late, suggesting that the recovery may be getting better established. But, while these developments are certainly encouraging, it is far too soon to conclude that we are out of the woods in terms of generating a strong, sustainable recovery. On the inflation front, the year-over-year rate of consumer price inflation has slowed in recent months, and despite the recent rise of gasoline prices, we expect inflation to moderate further in 2012.” To translate, the Fed isn’t worried about inflation and they have given themselves a green light for QE3 and they’ll juice the economy with piles of free money when they feel like it. Of course, that’s not the final word on the matter; St. Louis Fed President James Bullard says he sees the unemployment rate at 7.8% by the end of the year, noted that March’s monthly employment report was just one “mediocre” report and not an immediate concern that would push the …

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

DOW + 89 = 12,805SPX + 10 = 1368NAS + 25 = 301610 YR YLD +.04 = 2.03%OIL – .13 = 102.57GOLD – .90 = 1660.70SILV -.23 = 31.71PLAT – 14.00 = 1591.00 What changed between yesterday and today? What pushed the markets higher today? What pushed the markets lower yesterday? I hope I’m smart enough to not fall into that trap. The markets fluctuate. They don’t go straight down and they don’t go straight up. At the start of the month, I said you might want to think about taking profits off the table; I still think that’s wise, but I’m not saying the market will crash; I don’t think the sky is falling, at least not today. There are twelve different regional banks in the Federal Reserve; each month the task of writing about the economy falls to a different bank; the results are published in a book format with a beige cover, hence the name “Beige Book”. It’s a misnomer. Some months the book should be called “the lime green electrifying economic report” and other months it might be called the “Kind’a Blue Forecast”. This month, the report was prepared by the Cleveland Fed and the “Beige Book” title fits. The Federal Reserve says the economy continued to grow at a “modest to moderate pace” over the last month. Manufacturers and retailers expressed some concern about rising oil prices, but the unusually warm weather helped retail sales. The report showed an economy chugging if not roaring along: …

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Financial Review

Financial Review for Wednesday, April 4, 2012

DOW -124 = 13,074SPX – 14 = 1398NAS – 45 = 306810 YR YLD -.04 = 2.24% OIL +.57 = 102.04 GOLD – 25.40 = 1621.40SILV – 1.32 = 31.46PLAT – 43.00 = 1604.00 So, we made it through the first quarter, and it was just delightful, one of the best first quarter rallies in years; the S&P up about 12%, the NASDAQ up 18%. Do you think the S&P will continue at that pace in the second, third, and fourth quarters? Do you think the S&P will gain 48% this year? Actually a bit more. Do you think the NASDAQ will gain 72%? Let’s sort through what it really means. Are we seeing recovery or was it just a cyclical bull in a secular bear? Remember hearing about green shoots? Remember when they withered on the vine? How do recognize a genuine, sustainable recovery? First you have to realize there is an economic ebb and flow and there are some fairly predictable patterns that emerge. There were good years for investors back in the Great Depression but it was still a Great Depression. And we still have threats to the economy. Treasury Secretary Timothy Giethner said today that fallout from the European debt crisis along with fears of Iran and higher oil prices posed the biggest threats to the U.S. economy. “Europe is still facing a very difficult, very challenging period. They are likely to have weak growth. You have, obviously, the fear of Iran and oil prices, even though that is …

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04032012 Script DOW – 64 = 13,199SPX – 5 = 1413NAS – 6 = 311310 YR YLD +.09 = 2.28%OIL +.07 = 104.08GOLD – 31.20 = 1646.80SILV -.31 = 32.78PLAT – 10.00 = 1647.00 Stocks slumped, bond yields rose, the dollar strengthened, and Wall Street traders experienced DT shakes as they read the Federal Reserve’s March FOMC meeting minutes. There was no direct mention of QE3, the Fed’s big money giveaway to the big banks. And so, the traders started twitching and squirming. Where would they get their next fix of free money? Market expectations for more Fed easing—both quantitative easing or an extension of its ‘operation twist’—have seesawed back and forth in the past several weeks. In the beginning of March, markets factored out quantitative easing based on comments from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke that it might not be needed and that the economy was showing improvement. At the time, yields rose and stocks also held gains. But some weaker economic reports and new comments from Bernanke last week, defending the Fed’s easing stance, while not new, helped renew expectations for more easing. The minutes of the March 13 FOMC meeting show the voting members talking about more stimulus if the economy deteriorates. It also showed that the recent economic data did not materially change the forecast for 2013, or 2014. They also repeated past concerns about housing and unemployment, as well as discussed recent improvements in employment. Bernanke last week said the improvement in employment may be the …

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April, Monday 2, 2012

DOW + 52 = 13,264 SPX + 10 = 1419NAS +28 = 311910 YR YLD -.02 = 2.19%OIL – .40 = 104.83GOLD + 8.30 = 1678.00SILV +.71 = 33.09PLAT + 12.00 = 1657.00 The calm before the storm. Maybe I should say storms. This Friday we’ll look at the monthly jobs report for March. The nonfarm payroll is one of the bigger economic reports each month and frequently moves markets. The report this Friday will be strange. I guarantee. This Friday marks the somewhat unusual occurrence of a payrolls report being released on a holiday (Good Friday) that will keep stock markets shut. On Friday, stock futures will be trading for at least 45 minutes after the release, and government bonds will trade until noon. All Canadian and most European markets will be shut. It is widely expected the economy added 200,000 jobs in March; down from an average of 245,000 for the three prior months. The unemployment rate will probably stay at 8.3%. The addition of 200,000 jobs is not enough to lift the economy; it is just treading water, at best. So, the economy is looking pretty good, not great but good. A warm winter may have exaggerated first quarter growth. Consumer confidence is up but spending is outpacing wage gains. It makes for a pretty straightforward scenario for growth. The consumer can rely on high debt and/or growing asset prices to fuel their consumption but if debt gets too high and/or asset prices slip, then the consumer …

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