Marc Faber Warns “The Bubble Could Burst Any Day”; Prefers Physical Gold To Bitcoin

"The Fed's policies have actually led to a lot of problems around the world," Marc Faber begins his discussion with Bloomberg TV's Trish Regan, especially "people in the lower income groups [who] spend say 30% of their income on energy, transportation, and so forth, electricity and gasoline." The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report author goes on to discuss everything from how the Fed is creating a two-class system around the world, the inexorable growth of governments, buying votes, Bitcoin, interest rates, wealth taxes, and overall market valuations. "We are in a gigantic financial asset bubble," Faber explains, "everybody's bullish," but he sees a slowing global economy (as do we e.g. Baltic Dry Index); "[The bubble] could burst any day. I think we are very stretched." Faber is on fire…

 

Take 10 minutes and listen…

 

 

Prepare yourself… "In China, if I say what I am saying about the USA, they would not let me in the country"

 

Faber on the Fed and how far the 'rubber band can be stretched':

"We have to distinguish between the financial economy, the financial sector, and the economy of the well-to-do people that benefit from rising asset prices, from rising prices of wines, and paintings and art, and bonds, and equities, and high-end properties in the Hamptons and West 15 here in New York and so forth — and the average person, the typical household, the so-called 'median household', or the working class people. And the Fed's policies have actually led to a lot of problems around the world in the sense that they're not only responsible, but partly responsible that energy prices are where they are, they're up from $10 or $12 in 1999 to now around $100 a barrel. Food prices are up and a lot of other prices are up. So on your income, energy prices have very little impact because you at Bloomberg – you, young man – you make so much money. But for the poor people, it has an impact. Some people in the lower income groups, they spend say 30% of their income on energy, transportation, and so forth, electricity and gasoline."

On whether the Fed is creating a two-class system:

"Correct, largely. The problem is then that you have people like Bill de Blasio, they come in and say: 'you know what's the problem? All these rich guys. Because of these rich people, you are poor. They take advantage of you. So, let's go and tax them.' The IMF has come out with a paper in Europe that essentially the well-to-do people should pay a 10% wealth task — a one-time wealth tax. I can assure you, a one-time wealth tax, 10%, will become an every-year's tax eventually."

On how to help the people on the lower end of the economic spectrum:

"This is the point I'd like to make. All of these professors and academics at the Fed who never really worked in the private sector a single day in their lives, and write papers nobody reads and nobody's is interested in. Why would they want not write about how you structure an economic system that lifts the standard of living of most people? You can't lift everybody."

 

"We had that in the 19th century in the U.S. because we had very small government at the time. The entire government — local, state federal — was less than 20% of the economy. Now it is close to 50% of the economy."

On whether the government is spending too much money:

"The larger the government becomes, the less economic growth you have and the more crony capitalism and corruptions you have. Because big corporations — and especially the money printers, they're the most powerful people in the world, they control the governments. The U.S. Treasury, the Federal Reserve, and the government is one and the same. The Fed, they finance the Treasury, so the government can go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then they finance transfer payments to essentially buy votes so you can get elected."

On bitcoin:

"I prefer physical gold and silver, platinum to bitcoin. Bitcoin can have a lot of competition. Gold, silver, platinum — they have no competition. How do you value a bitcoin? I can value gold to some extent and compare say gold to the quantity of money that is floating around the world, to the wealth increase, and to the monetary base increase, to the credit increase, and so forth and so on, and to the production costs. So I have an idea of where gold should be. I'm not sure because prices overshoot. How do you value Netflix? Is it overpriced or underpriced? Is Tesla overpriced, underpriced?"

On interest rates:

"But one thing I wanted to show you and talk about because you said that lower interest rates help people. Well, if money trending helps everybody, then why does not everybody in the whole world always have zero interest rates? And everybody would be rich. You keep on printing money and you don't need to work here, you don't need to put on makeup. I could stay in bed the whole day and go drinking in the evenings. So, let's just print money and be all happy. It doesn't add up. One thing about the figures you showed: first of all, you live in New York. Do you really think that your cost-of-living increase is a 1.2% per annum? You really believe that? It doesn't feel like more, it feels like five times more, or even ten times more."

 

"Number two, by keeping interest rates at zero percent on the Fed fund rate — i want to emphasize that this is now going on in March of 2014 for five years. It is not something new. For five years this has happened. You penalize the income earners, the savers who save, your parents, why should your parents be forced to speculate in stocks and in real estate and everything under the sun?"

On his view of overvalued stocks, including Facebook:

"I think it is to a large extent a fad. People they go on Facebook – what they do is they put pictures on and the only people that watch these pictures are themselves. They all want to be stars. It is a very distractive kind of occupation. I can't imagine that this would have a lot of value. I would rather own – I don't own it because I think it is very highly priced – I would rather own a company like Alibaba or Amazon or Google, than Facebook, personally. This is my view. Other people have different views. That's what makes the market. Some people are buying it and some people are selling it.”

On overall market valuation concerns:

"I think we are in a gigantic financial asset bubble. But it is interesting that that despite of all the money printing, bond yields didn't go down. They bottomed out on July 25, 2012 at 1.43% on the 10-years. We went to over 3.0%. We're now at 2.85% or something thereabout. But we're up substantially. Now, this hasn't had an impact on stocks yet. In fact, it pushed money into the stock market out of the bond market. But if the 10-years goes to say 3.5% to 4.0%, then the 30-year goes to close to 5.0%, the mortgage rates go to 6.0%. That will hit the economy very hard."

 

"[The bubble] could burst before. It could burst any day. I think we are very stretched. Sentiment figures are very, very bullish. Everybody's bullish. The reality is they're very bullish because they think the economy will accelerate on the upside. But my view is very different. The global economy is slowing down, because the global economy's largely emerging economies nowadays, and there's no growth in exports in emerging economies, there's no growth, in the local economies. So, I feel that the valuations are high, the corporate profits have been boosted largely because of the falling interest rates."


    



via Zero Hedge http://ift.tt/1dpuDWM Tyler Durden

Marc Faber Warns "The Bubble Could Burst Any Day"; Prefers Physical Gold To Bitcoin

"The Fed's policies have actually led to a lot of problems around the world," Marc Faber begins his discussion with Bloomberg TV's Trish Regan, especially "people in the lower income groups [who] spend say 30% of their income on energy, transportation, and so forth, electricity and gasoline." The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report author goes on to discuss everything from how the Fed is creating a two-class system around the world, the inexorable growth of governments, buying votes, Bitcoin, interest rates, wealth taxes, and overall market valuations. "We are in a gigantic financial asset bubble," Faber explains, "everybody's bullish," but he sees a slowing global economy (as do we e.g. Baltic Dry Index); "[The bubble] could burst any day. I think we are very stretched." Faber is on fire…

 

Take 10 minutes and listen…

 

 

Prepare yourself… "In China, if I say what I am saying about the USA, they would not let me in the country"

 

Faber on the Fed and how far the 'rubber band can be stretched':

"We have to distinguish between the financial economy, the financial sector, and the economy of the well-to-do people that benefit from rising asset prices, from rising prices of wines, and paintings and art, and bonds, and equities, and high-end properties in the Hamptons and West 15 here in New York and so forth — and the average person, the typical household, the so-called 'median household', or the working class people. And the Fed's policies have actually led to a lot of problems around the world in the sense that they're not only responsible, but partly responsible that energy prices are where they are, they're up from $10 or $12 in 1999 to now around $100 a barrel. Food prices are up and a lot of other prices are up. So on your income, energy prices have very little impact because you at Bloomberg – you, young man – you make so much money. But for the poor people, it has an impact. Some people in the lower income groups, they spend say 30% of their income on energy, transportation, and so forth, electricity and gasoline."

On whether the Fed is creating a two-class system:

"Correct, largely. The problem is then that you have people like Bill de Blasio, they come in and say: 'you know what's the problem? All these rich guys. Because of these rich people, you are poor. They take advantage of you. So, let's go and tax them.' The IMF has come out with a paper in Europe that essentially the well-to-do people should pay a 10% wealth task — a one-time wealth tax. I can assure you, a one-time wealth tax, 10%, will become an every-year's tax eventually."

On how to help the people on the lower end of the economic spectrum:

"This is the point I'd like to make. All of these professors and academics at the Fed who never really worked in the private sector a single day in their lives, and write papers nobody reads and nobody's is interested in. Why would they want not write about how you structure an economic system that lifts the standard of living of most people? You can't lift everybody."

 

"We had that in the 19th century in the U.S. because we had very small government at the time. The entire government — local, state federal — was less than 20% of the economy. Now it is close to 50% of the economy."

On whether the government is spending too much money:

"The larger the government becomes, the less economic growth you have and the more crony capitalism and corruptions you have. Because big corporations — and especially the money printers, they're the most powerful people in the world, they control the governments. The U.S. Treasury, the Federal Reserve, and the government is one and the same. The Fed, they finance the Treasury, so the government can go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then they finance transfer payments to essentially buy votes so you can get elected."

On bitcoin:

"I prefer physical gold and silver, platinum to bitcoin. Bitcoin can have a lot of competition. Gold, silver, platinum — they have no competition. How do you value a bitcoin? I can value gold to some extent and compare say gold to the quantity of money that is floating around the world, to the wealth increase, and to the monetary base increase, to the credit increase, and so forth and so on, and to the production costs. So I have an idea of where gold should be. I'm not sure because prices overshoot. How do you value Netflix? Is it overpriced or underpriced? Is Tesla overpriced, underpriced?"

On interest rates:

"But one thing I wanted to show you and talk about because you said that lower interest rates help people. Well, if money trending helps everybody, then why does not everybody in the whole world always have zero interest rates? And everybody would be rich. You keep on printing money and you don't need to work here, you don't need to put on makeup. I could stay in bed the whole day and go drinking in the evenings. So, let's just print money and be all happy. It doesn't add up. One thing about the figures you showed: first of all, you live in New York. Do you really think that your cost-of-living increase is a 1.2% per annum? You really believe that? It doesn't feel like more, it feels like five times more, or even ten times more."

 

"Number two, by keeping interest rates at zero percent on the Fed fund rate — i want to emphasize that this is now going on in March of 2014 for five years. It is not something new. For five years this has happened. You penalize the income earners, the savers who save, your parents, why should your parents be forced to speculate in stocks and in real estate and everything under the sun?"

On his view of overvalued stocks, including Facebook:

"I think it is to a large extent a fad. People they go on Facebook – what they do is they put pictures on and the only people that watch these pictures are themselves. They all want to be stars. It is a very distractive kind of occupation. I can't imagine that this would have a lot of value. I would rather own – I don't own it because I think it is very highly priced – I would rather own a company like Alibaba or Amazon or Google, than Facebook, personally. This is my view. Other people have different views. That's what makes the market. Some people are buying it and some people are selling it.”

On overall market valuation c
oncerns:

"I think we are in a gigantic financial asset bubble. But it is interesting that that despite of all the money printing, bond yields didn't go down. They bottomed out on July 25, 2012 at 1.43% on the 10-years. We went to over 3.0%. We're now at 2.85% or something thereabout. But we're up substantially. Now, this hasn't had an impact on stocks yet. In fact, it pushed money into the stock market out of the bond market. But if the 10-years goes to say 3.5% to 4.0%, then the 30-year goes to close to 5.0%, the mortgage rates go to 6.0%. That will hit the economy very hard."

 

"[The bubble] could burst before. It could burst any day. I think we are very stretched. Sentiment figures are very, very bullish. Everybody's bullish. The reality is they're very bullish because they think the economy will accelerate on the upside. But my view is very different. The global economy is slowing down, because the global economy's largely emerging economies nowadays, and there's no growth in exports in emerging economies, there's no growth, in the local economies. So, I feel that the valuations are high, the corporate profits have been boosted largely because of the falling interest rates."


    



via Zero Hedge http://ift.tt/1dpuDWM Tyler Durden

China Expands Military “With Peace In Mind”

The Chinese military, especially the navy, made great strides last year in improving its combat capabilities, enabling it to better defend the nation against threats to its sovereignty, according to analysts. As China Daily reports, less than a month after being named the head of China’s Central Military Commission, President Xi Jinping asked PLA officers to adopt realistic combat criteria in military training. “It is the top priority for the military to be able to fight and win battles,” he said during an inspection to the Guangzhou military theater of operations in December 2012. While some have suggested the rapidly expanding PLA navy is driving a seismic shift in Asia’s military balance, Chinese experts have refuted such rhetoric, saying military moves by China are only aimed at creating improved self-defense by providing capabilities to match the other parties in the region.

 

 

Via China Daily,

China should have a military that can match its power status,” said Ma Gang, a professor at the People’s Liberation Army National Defense University. “It is the only big country that has not achieved reunification and faces serious challenges to its sovereignty and several territorial disputes.”

 

 

In November, China announced the creation of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone, which requires aircraft to report their flight plans and establish identification communications while flying through the zone.

 

 

Japan’s illegal purchase triggered strong protests from China and prompted it to start regular patrols around the islands last year. In July, five PLA warships steamed out of the Sea of Japan, through the Soya Strait and completed the Chinese navy’s first circumnavigation of the Japanese archipelago.

 

Cao Weidong, a researcher at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, said such activities would not increase tensions and that China’s stance remains defensive, while its naval forces are still dwarfed by traditional maritime powers.

 

“Instead, Washington is shifting 60 percent of its warships to the Pacific and Tokyo is gearing up to build a fully fledged military. China is suffering from the threat of escalating conflict,” he said.

 

James Holmes, a maritime strategist at the US Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, and a former US Navy surface warfare officer, said, “Naval commentators suggest the bellicose rhetoric shows that both sides are struggling to adjust to their new rivalry.

 

“And, the Japanese do regional tranquility no service by being alarmed when China’s navy transits international straits in a perfectly lawful manner,” Holmes told Reuters.

 

 

A stronger Chinese military will be able to play a bigger role in serving global peace, he said.

 

Of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, China is the largest contributor of personnel to UN peacekeeping missions.

 

In the past five years, China has sent 16 fleets composed of 42 warships to the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia, escorting 5,465 vessels and rescuing 42 ships attacked by pirates.

 

It is normal for the world to have some suspicions about the Chinese military build-up, while mutual understanding can only be improved through communication.


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/4pPo43-DFVg/story01.htm Tyler Durden

China Expands Military "With Peace In Mind"

The Chinese military, especially the navy, made great strides last year in improving its combat capabilities, enabling it to better defend the nation against threats to its sovereignty, according to analysts. As China Daily reports, less than a month after being named the head of China’s Central Military Commission, President Xi Jinping asked PLA officers to adopt realistic combat criteria in military training. “It is the top priority for the military to be able to fight and win battles,” he said during an inspection to the Guangzhou military theater of operations in December 2012. While some have suggested the rapidly expanding PLA navy is driving a seismic shift in Asia’s military balance, Chinese experts have refuted such rhetoric, saying military moves by China are only aimed at creating improved self-defense by providing capabilities to match the other parties in the region.

 

 

Via China Daily,

China should have a military that can match its power status,” said Ma Gang, a professor at the People’s Liberation Army National Defense University. “It is the only big country that has not achieved reunification and faces serious challenges to its sovereignty and several territorial disputes.”

 

 

In November, China announced the creation of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone, which requires aircraft to report their flight plans and establish identification communications while flying through the zone.

 

 

Japan’s illegal purchase triggered strong protests from China and prompted it to start regular patrols around the islands last year. In July, five PLA warships steamed out of the Sea of Japan, through the Soya Strait and completed the Chinese navy’s first circumnavigation of the Japanese archipelago.

 

Cao Weidong, a researcher at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, said such activities would not increase tensions and that China’s stance remains defensive, while its naval forces are still dwarfed by traditional maritime powers.

 

“Instead, Washington is shifting 60 percent of its warships to the Pacific and Tokyo is gearing up to build a fully fledged military. China is suffering from the threat of escalating conflict,” he said.

 

James Holmes, a maritime strategist at the US Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, and a former US Navy surface warfare officer, said, “Naval commentators suggest the bellicose rhetoric shows that both sides are struggling to adjust to their new rivalry.

 

“And, the Japanese do regional tranquility no service by being alarmed when China’s navy transits international straits in a perfectly lawful manner,” Holmes told Reuters.

 

 

A stronger Chinese military will be able to play a bigger role in serving global peace, he said.

 

Of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, China is the largest contributor of personnel to UN peacekeeping missions.

 

In the past five years, China has sent 16 fleets composed of 42 warships to the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia, escorting 5,465 vessels and rescuing 42 ships attacked by pirates.

 

It is normal for the world to have some suspicions about the Chinese military build-up, while mutual understanding can only be improved through communication.


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/4pPo43-DFVg/story01.htm Tyler Durden

The Single Most Important Element About Stock Investing

 

… is making sure you get paid.

 

When you buy shares in a company, you want to make money.

 

However, there is no guarantee that the shares will rise in price. Indeed, if you are investing simply because you believe prices will rise, you are essentially betting that someone else will want to pay more for your shares at a later date.

 

No matter how much research you perform, there is no guarantee this will happen.

 

Dividends, however, DO make sure you make money. Because the company is actually paying you to own shares. And this makes a heck of a difference.

 

If you had invested $1 in stocks in 1950 and held onto your position until 2010, you would have made EIGHT TIMES more money through dividends than share appreciation.

 

Let me restate that: by receiving and reinvesting dividends you’d make 800% more money than without them between 1950 and 2010.

 

The difference is even more incredible if you go back further.

 

Historically dividends have accounted for 70% of all stock market gains.

 

According to a study performed by the London Business School, when you remove dividends, stocks have returned a mere 1.7% in average annual gains over the last 109 years. To put this into perspective, this is less than you’d make from owning long-term US Treasury bonds (2.1%) over the same time period.

 

Indeed, if you’d invested $1 in stocks in 1900 and reinvested your dividends, by 2009, you’d have made $582 (adjusted for inflation). Take out dividends and you’d have only seen $6 from price appreciation. Yes, $6 from 109 years’ worth of capital gains.

 

Put another way, by focusing solely on capital gains when it comes to stock investing you’re only doubling your money about every 18 years (remember, this analysis simply focuses on the returns generated by the market… which outperforms most professional and individual investors).

 

So unless you’re buying stocks with dividends, you’re likely not making diddly in the long-term.

 

Again, if you’re going to buy stocks… make sure you get PAID. And there’s no better way to do this than with dividends.

 

For a FREE Special Report outlining how to protect your portfolio from this, swing by: http://ift.tt/170oFLH

 

Best Regards

Phoenix Capital Research 

 

 

 


    



via Zero Hedge http://ift.tt/1iQVDzE Phoenix Capital Research

These 10 People Collectively Own 33 Million Acres, Or 1.5% Of All US Land

It is a well-known fact that when it comes to ownership of rental properties in the US, Wall Street, and particularly Blackstone, has become the single largest landlord in the country. But what about undeveloped land? As summarized by Vizual-statistix, according to The Land Report published by Fay Ranches, the top 100 owners of US land collectively have 33 million acres in their private holdings.  This equates to about 1.5% of all USA land – that may seem like a small percentage, but it’s actually a massive area.  The chart below lays out the top 10 largest private landowners with the areas of Puerto Rico, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C. included for scale. As can be seen, all of the top 10 own a piece of the USA that is bigger than Rhode Island, and five have a piece that is at least as big as Delaware. John Malone, who is the largest land owner in the country with 2.2 million acres, owns private property the size of Puerto Rico.

Some additional perspective from The Land Report:

  Investing in rural, undeveloped land continues to be a popular strategy among the affluent, according to the 2013 Land Report 100, the latest annual survey and ranking of the largest private landowners in the United States just published by The Land Report and presented by Fay Ranches. Increasingly seen as a “safe deposit box with a view,” acreages continue to be purchased by leading landowners at solid rates. In 2012, the country’s top 100 landowners cumulatively increased their private holdings by 700,000 acres to a total of 33 million acres, nearly 2 percent of U.S. land mass.

 

Liberty Media Chairman John Malone and his 2.2 million acres under ownership topped the Land Report 100 list, which focuses exclusively on deeded acreage owned by individuals, families, family-owned companies and family-controlled foundations and excludes leased and public lands. Malone edged out Ted Turner, who currently possesses more than 2 million land acres. Rounding out the top five in order were: the Emmerson family, Brad Kelley and the Irving family. The 2013 edition of the Land Report 100 presented by Fay Ranches can be downloaded at http://ift.tt/1cl6OuU.

 

“It’s refreshing to continue seeing large landowners find value in aggregating their land for conservation and agriculture purposes versus parceling it out and developing it,” said land broker Greg Fay, founder of Fay Ranches, which is sponsoring the Land Report 100 for the third straight year and is a longtime supporter of the magazine. “Everyone at Fay Ranches congratulates leading landowners for their commitments to the land, to conserving our wild places and preserving our agricultural heritage.”

 

This year saw a shake-up in the top ten as Stan Kroenke elevated his position from No. 10 to No. 8 after his recent purchase of the historic Broken O Ranch, described nationally as “one of the largest agricultural operations in the Rocky Mountain West.” Kroenke also owns the 540,000-acre Q Creek Ranch, the largest contiguous ranch in the Rocky Mountains.

 

There are several landowners new to this year’s 100 list, including No. 28, Dan and Farris Wilks, billionaire brothers who recently purchased more than 400 square miles of land, mostly in the eastern half of Montana. Oil field services entrepreneurs, the Wilks brothers own the prized N Bar Ranch in Montana, which is known for its wildlife and fishery resources. Another new addition to the Land Report 100 presented by Fay Ranches is No. 96, Arthur Nicholas. The co-founder of Nicholas Investment Properties owns Wyoming’s historic Wagonhound Land and Livestock, an AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder.

 

“America’s largest landowners continue to recognize land as a compelling asset, one whose numerous attributes go well beyond ROI,” said Eric O’Keefe, editor-in-chief of The Land Report. “It’s a story you’ll see again and again in the Land Report 100, one that features familiar faces and some new ones I’m sure readers will instantly identify. ”

So here is how Bernanke’s trickle down supposedly works: US millionaires – rich in assets – become billionaires, increasingly buying up US land, i.e., more assets, while everyone else, read the not so wealthy, buy Made in China trinkets, purchased mostly on credit so loading up on liabilities, i.e., debt.


    



via Zero Hedge http://ift.tt/1m2a8n0 Tyler Durden

The Middle East Explained – In One Minute

With Islamic extremists raising their ominous-looking flags over Falluja and Ramadi again, it’s not looking too good in Iraq (or the rest of the Middle East). Sure, Mark Firoe notes, Iraqi government forces may take back some territory they lost, but it’s never a good sign when you have to shell your own country to maintain order. Confused at the proxy-wars, terrorists, statists, and just who the US is friends with? Have no fear, the following brief clip will explain it all…

 


    



via Zero Hedge http://ift.tt/1gHcEuR Tyler Durden

Baltic Dry Continues Collapse – Worst Slide Since Financial Crisis

Despite 'blaming' the drop in the cost of dry bulk shipping on Colombian coal restrictions, it seems increasingly clear that the 40% collapse in the Baltic Dry Index since the start of the year is more than just that. While this is the worst start to a year in over 30 years, the scale of this meltdown is only matched by the total devastation that occurred in Q3 2008. Of course, the mainstream media will continue to ignore this dour index until it decides to rise once again, but for now, 9 days in a row of plunging prices is yet another canary in the global trade coalmine and suggests what inventory stacking that occurred in Q3/4 2013 is anything but sustained.

 

Baltic Dry costs are the lowest in 4 months, down 40% for the start of the year, and the worst start to a year in over 30 years…

 

As we noted yesterday…

Of course, we are sure the 'lead' that the Baltic Dry seems to have over global macro will be quickly ignored…

 

Charts: Bloomberg


    



via Zero Hedge http://ift.tt/1dtTvOT Tyler Durden

Unemployment Rate Set To Plunge As Bill To Restore Jobless Benefits Fails To Pass Senate

Following last week’s surprising passage of the preliminary approval to extend emergency unemployment claims, i.e. emergency jobless claims, for 3 months, when six republicans sided with democrats and gave approval to the original $6.4 billion legislation, there was an expectation that up to 1.4 million Americans would get their benefits extended once again (despite the so-called recovery in the economy, and the job market, instead of just all time high S&P500). Moments ago such hopes were dashed, when a Senate plan to restore long-term jobless benefits hit a wall Tuesday after Republicans withdrew their support amid complaints over cost and other issues.

The $18 billion bill, which would restore the benefits through the end of 2014, failed to clear a key test vote. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid needed to attract 60 senators to move the bill forward, but the bill stalled on a 52-48 vote.

 

No Republicans voted in favor.

What happened between then and now, and why did those republicans revert back to the party line?

Reid lost their support when he amended the bill and failed to come up with a plan to offset the cost within 10 years.

 

“It doesn’t look good,” Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins said before the vote and after a meeting with Reid.

 

Collins and Nevada GOP Sen. Dean Heller unsuccessfully proposed that Reid go back to the three-month extension. “We’re back to ground zero,” Heller said.

 

The senators are expected to return to the negotiating table. The GOP-controlled House has yet to vote on extending the benefits.

 

Reid postponed a prior vote Monday night upon realizing he didn’t have enough support and said he needed time to talk with members of both parties.

It almost makes one wonder if Reid isn’t trying to sabotage his own legislation. Whatever the answer, it increasingly seems that no law, retroactive or otherwise, will pass before the end of the month, which also means that up to (a record) 1.4 million Americans will fall out of the labor force, in addition to the now traditional 200K-600K people who quietly exit the labor pool every month. Which also means that, as we explained previously, since the impact on the unemployment rate could be as high as 0.8% from just the EUC expiration alone, that the unemployment rate for January could crash to under 6% just as the economy is starting to really backslide, as shown by the recent horrendous data from retailers across the board.


    



via Zero Hedge http://ift.tt/1dtTx9j Tyler Durden

Bob Shiller Warns Fed ‘Fire-Fighting’ Is “Not A recipe For A Happy Ending”

Authored by Robert Shiller, originally posted at Project Syndicate,

If we have learned anything since the global financial crisis peaked in 2008, it is that preventing another one is a tougher job than most people anticipated. Not only does effective crisis prevention require overhauling our financial institutions through creative application of the principles of good finance; it also requires that politicians and their constituents have a shared understanding of these principles.

Today, unfortunately, such an understanding is missing. The solutions are too technical for most news reporting aimed at the general public. And, while people love to hear about “reining in” or “punishing” financial leaders, they are far less enthusiastic about asking these people to expand or improve financial-risk management. But, because special-interest groups have developed around existing institutions and practices, we are basically stuck with them, subject to minor tweaking.

The financial crisis, which is still ongoing, resulted largely from the boom and bust in home prices that preceded it for several years (home prices peaked in the United States in 2006). During the pre-crisis boom, homebuyers were encouraged to borrow heavily to finance undiversified investments in a single home, while governments provided guarantees to mortgage investors. In the US, this occurred through implicit guarantees of assets held by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the mortgage agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

At a session that I chaired at the American Economic Association’s recent meeting in Philadelphia, the participants discussed the difficulty of getting any sensible reform out of governments around the world. In a paper presented at the session, Andrew Caplin of New York University spoke of the public’s lack of interest or comprehension of the rising risks associated with the FHA, which has been guaranteeing privately-issued mortgages since its creation during the housing crisis of the 1930’s.

Caplin’s discussant, Joseph Gyourko of the Wharton School, concurred. Gyourko’s own 2013 study concludes that the FHA, now effectively leveraged 30 to one on guarantees of home mortgages that are themselves leveraged 30 to one, is underwater to the tune of tens of billions of dollars. He wants the FHA shut down and replaced with a subsidized saving program that does not attempt to compete with the private sector in evaluating mortgage risk.

Similarly, Caplin testified in 2010 before the US House Committee on Financial Services that the FHA was at serious risk, a year after FHA Commissioner David Stevens told the same committee that “We will not need a bailout.” Caplin’s research evidently did not sit well with FHA officials, who were hostile to Caplin and refused to give him the data he wanted. The FHA has underestimated its losses every year since, while proclaiming itself in good health. Finally, in September, it was forced to seek a government bailout.

At the session, I asked Caplin about his effort, starting with his co-authored 1997 book Housing Partnerships, which proposed allowing homebuyers to buy only a fraction of a house, thereby reducing their risk exposure without putting taxpayers at risk. If implemented, his innovative idea would reduce homeowners’ leverage. But, while it was a highly leveraged mortgage market that fueled the financial crisis 11 years later, the idea, he said, has not made headway anywhere in the world.

Why not, I asked? Why can’t creative people with their lawyers simply create such partnerships for themselves? The answer, he replied, is complicated; but, at least in the US, one serious problem looms large: the US Internal Revenue Service’s refusal to issue an advance ruling on how such risk-managing arrangements would be taxed. Given the resulting uncertainty, no one is in a mood to be creative.

Meanwhile, there is strong public demand – angry and urgent – for a government response aimed at preventing another crisis and ending the problem of “too big to fail” financial institutions. But the political reality is that government officials lack sufficient knowledge and incentive to impose reforms that are effective but highly technical.

For example, one reform adopted in the US to help prevent the “too big to fail” problem is the risk retention rule stipulated by the 2010 Dodd Frank Act. In order to ensure that mortgage securitizers have some “skin in the game,” they are required to retain an interest in 5% of the mortgage securities that they create (unless they qualify for an exemption).

But, in another paper presented at our session, Paul Willen of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston argued that creating such a restriction is hardly the best way for a government to improve the functioning of financial markets. Investors already know that people have a stronger incentive to manage risks better if they retain some interest in the risk. But investors also know that other factors may offset the advantages of risk retention in specific cases. In trying to balance such considerations, the government is in over its head.

The most fundamental reform of housing markets remains something that reduces homeowners’ overleverage and lack of diversification. In my own paper for the session, I returned to the idea of the government encouraging privately-issued mortgages with preplanned workouts, thereby insuring them against the calamity of ending up underwater after home prices fall. Like housing partnerships, this would be a fundamental reform, for it would address the core problem that underlay the financial crisis. But there is no impetus for such a reform from existing interest groups or the news media.

One of our discussants, Joseph Tracy of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (and co-author of Housing Partnerships), put the problem succinctly: “Firefighting is more glamorous than fire prevention.” Just as most people are more interested in stories about fires than they are in the chemistry of fire retardants, they are more interested in stories about financial crashes than they are in the measures needed to prevent them. That is not a recipe for a happy ending.


    



via Zero Hedge http://ift.tt/1a4Z71y Tyler Durden