These Are The Top Financial Concerns Of Ordinary Americans

While institutional investors and money managers have a very specific list of worries when it comes to their “financial concerns” such as Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO), monthly/quarterly performance and redemption requests, losing top traders, what the year end bonus will be, order fill slippage, being frontrun by HFT algos, what the Fed chairwoman may say any given day, whether it is 3:30pm or if it is a Tuesday, ordinary Americans have a far simpler list of concerns. According to a recent Gallup poll, the one thing that has most Americans very/moderately worried is “whether or not they have enough money for retirement.”

The list of the top concerns is presented below:

 

In a country in which the economy is barely sputtering, and where all the benefits from 5+ years of QE have accrued exclusively to the top 1% of wealthy, that nearly two-thirds of society is concerned about its retirement prospects will hardly come as a surprise.

Going down the list, the next highest concern, not being able to pay medical costs in the event of a serious illness or accident, worries 53% of Americans. This is down from a record high of 62% in 2012.

Third on the list of Americans’ top financial worries is not being able to maintain the standard of living they enjoy, with nearly half of the country’s adults citing this concern. Together, retirement savings, unexpected medical costs, and maintaining one’s standard of living typically top the list of the eight financial items that Gallup has tracked annually since 2001. Concerns about all three are down modestly from two years ago, but are still higher than they were before the Great Recession.

The good news is that according to the latest poll, all of the top three concerns are well below expressed levels at any time since the collapse of Lehman. Still, with the stock market at all time highs, one would expect that people who are “very” concerned about any of these three prospects would be at a record low. Alas, it is nowhere near such levels.

Going down the list, from Gallup:

Notably, four in 10 American adults say they are very or moderately worried about not having enough money to pay off their debt. This is the first time Gallup has included this financial issue. With as much as $1 trillion in outstanding student loan debt circulating in the U.S. today — not to mention other prevalent types of debt such as credit cards — debt concerns are clearly weighing on a significant proportion of the country.

 

Of the nine concerns tested, the bottom two concerns — not being able to pay one’s rent or mortgage, and not being able to make minimum payments on credit card bills — are those most likely to indicate immediate insolvency. This finding suggests that most common financial problems are related more to savings and future expenditures than day-to-day living.

As also would be expected, different age groups have different concerns. The top problem for the broadly defined group of middle-aged Americans — those aged 30 to 64 — is not having enough money for retirement, in line with previous findings. For this group, about seven in 10 worry about not having enough money for retirement.

Young Americans aged 18 to 29 worry most about paying medical costs in the event of a serious illness or accident (52%), perhaps a result of the comparatively high uninsured rate for younger Americans or the lack of savings typically characterizing that age group. An equal share of 18- to 29-year-olds (52%) say they are worried about being able to maintain their standard of living. And nearly half of 18- to 29-year-olds worry about being able to pay off debt, perhaps a consequence of the massive amount of student loan debt that many young adults carry. Possibly befitting their youth and their longer distance in years from retirement, this group is least concerned about having enough money when they retire compared with other age groups — despite dire predictions about the future of Medicare and Social Security.

Older Americans, those aged 65 or older, also worry most about being able to pay medical costs in the event of a serious illness or accident, though few in this age group lack health insurance. However, given the formidable cost of protracted, continual medical care that often characterizes older Americans’ later years, many senior citizens may feel their health insurance alone cannot handle such a financial burden. Generally speaking, though, senior citizens are much less concerned about most of these financial problems than are their younger counterparts. The majority of older Americans appear to have retirement financing under control; 37% worry about having enough money in their retirement, by far the lowest percentage of any age group. Senior citizens are least concerned about not having enough money to pay for their children’s college education (8%) — presumably because older Americans already faced that challenge.

Curiously, for Americans across all age groups, the ability to make minimum payments on credit card bills does not generate much concern. Perhaps because as they have seen their host nation do time and again, when one gets that third overdue bill, one can simply roll over the amount due to a different credit card company, or simpler yet, default. After all it is only a matter of time before such activity is fully endorsed by Obama’s “fairness doctrine.”

Gallup’s conclusion:

Retirement may be a time that many working adults look forward to, but it is paradoxically a source of stress in the here and now. A strong majority of Americans, particularly those aged 30 to 64, worry about having enough money for retirement, and this concern has regularly topped the list of Americans’ top financial problems. The only other personal financial concern that a majority of Americans are very or moderately worried about is the ability to pay medical costs in the event of a serious accident or illness.

 

For a country that now has a life expectancy at birth of 78.7 years, retirement savings for post-work years is considered a matter of national importance. These concerns led President Barack Obama to propose a retirement savings account for working adults — MyRA — during this year’s State of the Union address. It remains to be seen whether this new type of savings plan, which will be available in late 2014, will ultimately alleviate some Americans’ concerns about retirement.

The answer, of course, is no and as with any other such “no risk, guaranteed return” instrument the outcome will be a disaster of epic proportions. But we’ll cross that bridge when central-planning takes us to it. In the meantime, just BTFD, or alternatively, BTFATH, and hope for the best. After all, in a market as rigged and manipulated as this one, hope (and prayer) is without doubt the best, and probably only, strategy.




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Russian Sanctions Could See Gold Prices ‘Explode’

Today’s AM fix was USD 1,302.00, EUR 938.45 and GBP 772.79 per ounce.    

Friday’s AM fix was USD 1,294.25, EUR 934.88 and GBP 769.38 per ounce.


Gold climbed $9.80 or 0.76% on Friday to $1,302.70/oz. Silver rose $0.04 or 0.2% to $19.71/oz.
Gold and silver finished up for the week – up 0.60% and 0.41% respectively.

Gold eked out small gains in European trading, as growing tensions in Ukraine are contributing to higher prices.  On Thursday prices dropped to $1,268.40 per ounce – the lowest since early February, before rallying due to tensions over Ukraine. In the last 3 sessions, gold bullion has rallied nearly 2%, as the crisis in Eastern Europe bolsters safe haven demand.



Gold in U.S. Dollars, 2 Years – (Thomson Reuters)

Today, geopolitical tensions have deepened with President Obama saying that the United States will impose additional sanctions on Russia targeting individuals and companies.

The move is expected to be followed by separate sanctions from the European Union. Washington said at the weekend the new sanctions would target individuals and companies close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as new restrictions on high-tech exports to Russia’s defence industry.

The geopolitical risks may overshadow a number of important reports on the U.S. economy this week.

The conflict reached a new level over the weekend, when a group of international observers from the Vienna-based Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) were abducted by pro-Russian groups. The separatists later released one of the captives due to a medical condition requiring treatment, but also said they had no intention of freeing the others. Negotiations for the release of the observers are underway, Russia saying it will help as much as possible with the situation.


Western diplomats will hold high level talks today, with the goal of agreeing further and tougher sanctions against Moscow. The BBC reported that, according to sources familiar with developments, this round of asset freezes and travel bans may target individuals at the top of Russia’s energy industry. There is even speculation that Putin himself and his considerable net worth may be targeted.  

Russia will likely react to these sanctions and retaliate. This could come in the form of financial, economic or currency warfare.

One unappreciated risk is that state sanctioned Russian hackers may target U.S. exchanges and financial infrastructure. Bloomberg reports that “U.S. officials and security specialists are warning that Russian hackers may respond to new sanctions by attacking the computer networks of U.S. banks and other companies.”

Cybersecurity specialists consider Russian hackers among the world’s best at infiltrating networks and say evidence exists that they already have inserted malicious software on computers in the U.S.


There are concerns that small numbers of computer experts could have the ability “to cripple the U.S. economy in a few days.”


putin_gold_bars.jpg

Veteran gold analyst, George Gero, who is the precious metals analyst at RBC is not a man for hyperbole or overstatement. Indeed, he has been quite bearish on gold in recent years. However, he believes that Ukraine and the deepening crisis, could have a “massively bullish impact on gold prices.”


He told
CNBC the following:

“One of the largest suppliers of gold, and of course platinum, is Russia and if they’re going to be involved in sanctions, and more problems with Ukraine, and deliveries are curtailed—and there is already a problem in South Africa between the miners of platinum, palladium and the mining companies. All of that could somehow explode on the upside and curtail deliveries, meaning higher prices.”

Russia is the fourth-largest producer of gold, outputting 7% of the world’s total supply according to the British Geological Survey. Were Russia to retaliate by banning the exports of all precious metals and by selling some of their large foreign exchange reserves and diversifying into gold, silver, platinum and palladium, it would likely lead to migh higher prices for all precious metals.


There is also the strong possibility of increased safe haven demand. This is likely to materialise should economic or even military conflict materialise.

HSBC point out that geopolitical incidents and a short term increase in geopolitical tensions tend to see gold prices rise, prior to the fleeting impact abating and prices falling again.

However, the risk of conflict between Russia and the U.S. and EU is more than a short term risk. It is one of the greatest geopolitical challenges since the end of the Cold War. Therefore, it is likely to have a more material impact on gold prices.

The concept of MAD or mutually assured destruction was what prevented war between the superpowers during the Cold War. Today, there appears to be a lack of awareness regarding the risk of mutually assured economic destruction.

New research shows the importance of owning gold bullion in a pension. The research looks at the important role that gold bullion can play as a diversification in pension portfolios >>> Guide To Gold In UK Pensions




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Selling Scramble Becomes Buying Panic But The S&P/Dow Fail To Hold April Gains

Owners of high-growth, high-beta stocks could not find a buyer for any of their crap today some mid-afternoon shenanigans between AUDJPY, VIX, and more utterly useless Russian headlines meant those same owners of high-growth, high-beta stocks were beating buyers away with a shitty stick. Pandora is a great example of the chaos (today's swings down 2%, up 4%, down 11%, then up 6%) as today's action in the so-called "market" was anything but human. The buying panic lifted the S&P, Dow, and Trannies briefly into the green for April but very late-day weakness left only the Trannies green for April.

"Most Shorted" stocks had fallen 2.5% (against a 0.5% drop in the S&P) when the squeezathon began and lifted them back to almost unch. The Russell 2000 tested below its 200DMA and was ramped back above it for the 4th time in the last 2 weeks. Away from the equity excremation, the USD ended the day unchange (JPY lower, SEK higher); Treasury yields dumped and pumped to end up 2-4bps on the day; and gold and silver rallied off spike lows early on but ended the day -0.6% or so. We just hope the desperate BTFWWIII'ers didn't use up all their BTFTuesday ammo…

Here is your "market" for the day…

 

Year-to-date, financials are now red as BofA's admission of maffematical micreance drags em lower

 

The Russell lost and regained its 200DMA once again.

(just look at how technically it trades, look at the perfect reversals…!)

 

Wild ride in momo muppetry…

 

And Biotechs bounced all too pefectly to unchanged only to be sold into the close…

 

And despite the oump, the S&P and Dow lost the gains for April

 

"Most shorted" were dumped and pumped…

 

AUDJPY was in charge though the overnight lift all started with a bounce off the crucial USDJPY 102.00 level…

 

As The VIX tail wagged the market dog once again…

 

Treasury yields roundtripped… with the long-end underperforming

 

Gold and Silver were smashed lower on a better than expected housing data print – then limped higher all day… Oil ended up on the day after early weakness

 

Charts: Bloomberg

Bonus Chart: A reminder of how great earnings season is going…

 




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Pot Prohibitionists Will Have to Do Better Than Bill Bennett’s BS

A couple of months
ago, arguing in favor of marijuana prohibition at the Conservative
Political Action Conference (CPAC), radio producer Christopher
Beach faced a
mostly hostile audience. “There used to be a strong conservative
coalition opposed to drugs, but it’s dissipated in the face of
mounting public support for legalization,” Beach told The
Atlantic
‘s Molly Ball afterward. “We’re fighting against the
tide on this.” According to the headline of an
essay
by Beach and his boss, former drug czar Bill Bennett, in
the May 5 issue of The Weekly Standard, they are also
fighting “The Legalization Juggernaut,” which presumably is moving
with the tide. Beach and Bennett nevertheless argue that it’s not
too late to turn this juggernaut around. Maybe so, but they are
going to need a bigger boat, or at least better arguments. Here are
a few they should consider retiring:

The great political scientist James Q. Wilson staunchly
opposed the legalization of drugs. He explained that “drug use is
wrong because it is immoral and it is immoral because it enslaves
the mind and destroys the soul.” No society should want unhealthy
substances destroying the minds, bodies, character, and potential
of its citizens.

As I note in my book
Saying Yes
, Wilson’s explanation made no distinction
between use and abuse, weirdly implying that consumption of
psychoactive substances always (or at least usually) “enslaves the
mind and destroys the soul,” which was his tendentious description
of addiction. Furthermore, Wilson conceded that alcohol poses the
same sort of threat, which raises the obvious question of how it
can be just to treat suppliers of beer, wine, and liquor as
legitimate businessmen while treating suppliers of marijuana,
cocaine, and heroin as criminals.

No country in the history of the world has persevered in
the legalization of drugs. None. We may learn the hard way
why.
 

You can’t persevere in a policy you’ve never tried, and to date
no country has legalized the drugs currently banned by the U.S.
government, although Uruguay is moving toward legalization of
marijuana. Then again, marijuana prohibition is a relatively recent
development, dating to 1937 at the national level in the United
States, and all of the currently proscribed drugs were legal for
almost all of human history, which many people might consider a
precedent of some significance. 

Even in states that have allowed only medicinal
marijuana, use among young people has risen. 

If Beach and Bennett mean that cannabis consumption by teenagers
has increased more in states with medical marijuana laws than in
other states, they are wrong, according to a March 2012
study
in Annals of Epidemiology, an October 2013

analysis
in the Journal of Policy Analysis and
Management
, and an April 2014 study
in the Journal of Adolescent Health. “This study did not
find increases in adolescent marijuana use related to legalization
of medical marijuana,” say the authors of the most recent study,
which was published online a couple of weeks ago.

Marijuana today is far more potent than it was in the
1960s and ’70s….The more potent the drug the more dangerous its
effects.

Not if you are concerned about the respiratory health effects of
smoking, which is probably the most serious physical hazard posed
by pot. The stronger the pot, the less you smoke to achieve the
desired effect.

Even casual pot smoking has been linked to harmful brain
abnormalities. An important new study by researchers at
Northwestern University to be published in the Journal of
Neuroscience
 found that young adults who smoked pot only
once or twice a week still showed significant abnormalities in the
part of the brain that deals with memory and
motivation.

The study to which Beach and Bennett refer
did not actually show
that the “brain abnormalities” were
harmful, or even that they were caused by marijuana.

Marijuana, of course, is a gateway drug. Even the
authors of Marijuana Legalization admit that
“kids who use marijuana—particularly those who start marijuana use
at a young age—are statistically much more likely to go on to use
other drugs than their peers who do not use
marijuana.”

The authors of
that book
(Jonathan Caulkins, Angela Hawken, Beau Kilmer, and
Mark Kleiman) go on to say, “What is not at all clear, however, is
whether marijuana use causes subsequent use of
other drugs or whether it is merely
signal indicating the presence of underlying
social, psychological, or physiological risk factors—such as weak
parental supervision, a taste for intoxication, or a willingness to
take risks—for both early marijuana use and later hard drug
use.”

Over the last 10 years, fatal car accidents involving
people who were stoned have tripled, according to a report in
the 
American Journal of
Epidemiology

What the study
actually found
, based on data from six states, was that the
share of drivers killed in car crashes who tested positive for
cannabinol, a marijuana metabolite, rose from from 4.2 percent
in 1999 to 12.2 percent in 2010. Cannabinol is not psychoactive and
can be detected up to a week after marijuana consumption, so its
presence does not indicate a driver was stoned at the time of the
crash, let alone that marijuana contributed to it. During the same
period, the total number of traffic fatalities declined. There is
reason to believe legalizing marijuana could
accelerate that downward trend
, assuming that more pot smoking
is accompanied by less drinking.

On the subject of marijuana, Beach and Bennett note, “The
shift in public opinion has been dramatic.”  They cite recent
polling data indicating majority support for legalization but say
“we are convinced this headlong rush into disaster can be
stopped—if, that is, political leaders can be found who have the
nerve to take on the conventional wisdom.” It is gratifying
that pot prohibitionists feel compelled to portray themselves as
underdogs, since most Americans disagree with them. But it seems
they have not fully digested the implications of their new minority
status, which means the same old moralistic assertions and
scientific misrepresentations will no longer do. Drug warriors will
have to
step up their game
now that they are in the unaccustomed
position of needing to persuade people.

[Thanks to Richard Cowan for the tip.]

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Futures Surge On Yet Another “Diplomatic De-escalation” Bluff

The first rip was a “standard” VIX-based, AUDJPY-based ramp to VWAP to save the big boys and allow orders out but that rapidly escalated into a panic buying spree as headlines hit that yet another in a long-series of de-escalation optimisms…

  • RUSSIAN TROOPS RETURNED TO BASE FROM UKRAINE BORDER: IFX
  • RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTER SHOIGU TOLD U.S. DEFENCE SECRETARY HAGEL RUSSIA IS OPEN TO CONTACTS WITH ALL SIDES TO SEEK TO DEFUSE TENSION OVER UKRAINE

Think about it… we know what Russia wants, we know what they need to defise the situation and we know the US/West won’t accept it… so “we” buy the fucking dip anyway..?

 




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SeND IN THE NeoCLoWNS…

Victoria, “Fuck the EU”, Nuland…Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs…

Who is this Neo-Clown that is spearheading American policy vis-a-vis the Ukraine?

 

Following the election of Barack Obama to the presidency in 2008, many Americans believed that the age of the neo-cons was over. Neo-cons, nostalgic for the Cold War, put their own imprimatur on the George W. Bush presidency by having it adopt all the principles of neocon policy dogma, most notably a document known as the Project for the New American Century or “PNAC.” With fresh policy guidance from within the neo-con policymaking lairs of the American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation, Hudson Institute, and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, neocons like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Scooter Libby, and Robert Kagan set about to plunge the United States into senseless wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and beyond in a never-ending “global war on terrorism.”

Kagan, although not as well-known as the others, continues to steer America into foreign policy fiascos such as U.S. involvement in the domestic affairs of Ukraine. Kagan has an ace-in-the-hole in stirring up tensions in Ukraine because his wife is none other than Victoria Nuland…

Nuland’s career has been one of ensuring that the underpinnings of the Cold War never completely died out in Europe. Her State Department career began as the chief of staff to President Bill Clinton’s Deputy Secretary of State and close friend, Strobe Talbott. It was under Talbott that Nuland helped completely fracture Yugoslavia and ensured that the U.S. slanted against the interests of Russia’s ally, Serbia. After helping to lord over the final end of Yugoslavia, Nuland moved to develop U.S. foreign policy for the former Soviet Union. Ukraine landed right in the middle of Nuland’s target scope.

After the Clinton administration, Nuland went on to become Vice President Dick Cheney’s principal foreign policy adviser. Impressed with her anti-Russian and neo-con stance, Cheney recommended Nuland to be the U.S. ambassador to NATO. After the Bush administration, Nuland ensured that the neo-con apparatchiks continued to have a say in the new president’s foreign policy. Nuland was appointed as the special envoy for Conventional Armed Forces in Europe in a further bid to confront Russia. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appointed Nuland as her press spokesman after Philip J. Crowley was forced to resign after he publicly complained about the military prison treatment of Army Private Bradley Manning, arrested and jailed for releasing classified State Department cables to WikiLeaks. Nuland, unlike Crowley, would ensure that neo-con swagger would dominate Mrs. Clinton’s State Department. That swagger became abundantly clear in the CIA’s coup against President Manuel Zelaya in Honduras, the U.S.-led overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, and U.S. support for uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

Nuland would survive the controversy over the October 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission/CIA facility in Benghazi, Libya. Initially, many conservative Republicans criticized Nuland for her role in providing ambassador to the UN Susan Rice with “talking points” explaining away the failure of the U.S. to protect the compound from an attack that killed U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other U.S. personnel. All it took was a tap on the shoulder from Nuland’s husband Kagan and his influential friends in the neo-con hierarchy for the criticism of his wife to stop. And stop it did as Nuland was confirmed, without Republican opposition, to be the new Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, a portfolio that gave her a clear mandate to interfere in the domestic policies of Ukraine and other countries, including Russia itself.

[Source: Meet Neocon Doughnut Dolly,  http://ift.tt/15K9Hap]

 

That’s right, Dick Cheney, yet another example of “Change We Can All Believe In…”

Meanwhile, another Neo-Clown near and dear to all of our hearts has been busy agitating for an even more agressive military posture in Central Europe: Scary Clown Condi is back!

 

 

.

 

 

Condi the Neoclown has suffered some controversy in recent weeks, first in connection with being appointed to the Board of Directors of Drop Box (that’s right Drop Box, as in entrust us with your data) and then in connection with her $150,000 address to the graduating class of University of Minnesota: We saved America

MSM statist tools are claiming Condi the clown is a target of unfair attacks by Libtards.

Bullshit…she is just another run of the mill statist Neoc_ _ t…just like Nuland…and a war criminal to boot.

Meanwhile, Condi today announced that she will stump the pavement on behalf of Lindsey Graham who is apparently up for re-election.

Still want to trust Drop Box with your private data?

 

.

 

 

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‘A Freedom-Destroying Cocktail’: Justice Breyer Keeps Siding with the Cops in Fourth Amendment Cases

In his 2010 book Making Our Democracy Work: A Judge’s
View
, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer
urged
the federal courts to adopt a broad posture of judicial
deference towards the other branches of government. Judges must
“take account of the role of other governmental institutions and
the relationships among them,” Breyer wrote, and thereby “maintain
a workable relationship between the various braches of government.”
Breyer’s preferred solution was for judges to give government
officials the benefit of the doubt in most cases.

The implications of that
deferential approach were made plain last week in the Fourth
Amendment case Navarette
v. California
. At issue was an anonymous phone call made
to 911 about a dangerous driver. That call prompted a traffic stop
and resulting drug bust by the police. According to the majority
opinion of Justice Clarence Thomas, “the stop complied with the
Fourth Amendment because, under the totality of the circumstances,
the officer had reasonable suspicion that the driver was
intoxicated.” Among those who joined Thomas in granting wide leeway
to law enforcement was none other than Stephen Breyer.

Justice Antonin Scalia, by contrast, in a dissent joined by
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan,
rejected the Navarette majority’s pro-government stance.
“The Court’s opinion serves up a freedom-destroying cocktail,”
Scalia declared, one that privileges an anonymous and
uncorroborated tipster over a core constitutional right. “All the
malevolent 911 caller need do is assert a traffic violation, and
the targeted car will be stopped, forcibly if necessary, by the
police.” That troubling scenario, Scalia declared, “is not my
concept, and I am sure it would not be the Framers’, of a people
secure from unreasonable searches and seizures.” Translation: Take
your “workable relationship” and shove it.

Navarette was not the first time Breyer cast his lot
with a “freedom-destroying” interpretation of the Fourth
Amendment—and sadly, it won’t be the last. In 2012’s
Maryland v. King
, for example, Breyer joined Justice
Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion allowing police to conduct
warrantless DNA swab tests incident to arrest. “Make no mistake
about it,” fumed Justice Scalia in dissent, joined (as in
Navarette) by Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan. “As an
entirely predictable consequence of today’s decision, your DNA can
be taken and entered into a national DNA database if you are ever
arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason.”

The Court’s 2013 ruling in Missouri
v. McNeely
provides yet another telling example. The
dispute in that case stemmed from the police obtaining a
warrantless and non-consensual blood sample from a suspected drunk
driver. For a majority of the Court, that action was too invasive
to pass constitutional muster under the Fourth Amendment—but Breyer
was apparently untroubled. He joined the police-friendly dissent
filed by Chief Justice Roberts.

It’s
common
these days for progressives
to embrace
Justice Breyer as one of their biggest heroes on the
Supreme Court. And perhaps he is. But any assessment of Breyer’s
merits must also reckon with his overwhelming deference to the
police in Fourth Amendment cases. Is that a progressive virtue?

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Hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood Supporters Sentenced to Death in Egypt

Today almost 700 people, including the
leader of the banned Muslim Brotherhood, were sentenced to death.
The sentences were imposed for their alleged involvement in rioting
that took place in the Egyptian city of Minya last August,
resulting in the death of one policeman.

The judge who handed down today’s judgement also finalized the
death sentences of 37 of the
529 men
sentenced to death last month for participating in the
same rioting. Those who did not have their sentences finalized had
their sentences commuted to life in prison.

Former President Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted by the
military-backed protests last July, is backed by the Muslim
Brotherhood and is himself
facing numerous charges
such as espionage, murder, and
attempted murder.

The news of the latest mass death sentence verdict comes ahead
of presidential elections next month, which Gen. Abdel Fattah
al-Sisi is expected to win. Gen. Sisi backed protests against
Morsi’s rule.


CBS news
notes how extraordinary the recent death sentences
are; even after President Muhammad Anwar al-Sadat was
assassinated only five people were sentenced to death and
executed.

The news of the latest sentences comes on the same day that a
court banned the secular April 6 Youth Movement, a decision the
BBC says
was made based on “a complaint that accused the group of
‘tarnishing the image’ of Egypt and colluding with foreign
parties.”

It was reported last week that despite all of the tensions and
unrest in Egypt the U.S. is still planning on sending the current
military-backed government in Egypt some
military and counterterrorism aid
. Apache helicopters, meant
for counterterrorism operations in the Sinai peninsula, are among
the pieces of military equipment to be released to the
Egyptians.

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Hacker “Weev” is Released from Prison, Starts Hedge Fund Called TRO LLC, Appears on CNBC

CNBC just got very surreal. I have been following the release from prison of well known hacker and troll “Weev” for several weeks now. What has really captured my attention is his effort to get the world’s smartest hackers to find vulnerabilities in companies, short the shit out of them, and then release the vulnerability to the public. He plans on using a hedge fund naturally called TRO LLC to achieve this goal.

Bottom line, no matter what you think of this guy, he is a force to be reckoned with and someone to keep a close eye on. Apparently, the hacker community is sharpening its pitchforks as we speak. Wall Street has no idea what might be coming their way.

 

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Hacker “Weev” is Released from Prison, Starts Hedge Fund Called TRO LLC, Appears on CNBC originally appeared on A Lightning War for Liberty on April 28, 2014.

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The Elephant In The Room: Deutsche Bank’s $75 Trillion In Derivatives Is 20 Times Greater Than German GDP

It is perhaps supremely ironic that the last time we did an in depth analysis of Deutsche Bank’s financial situation was precisely a year ago, when the largest bank in Europe (and according to some, the world), stunned its investors with a 10% equity dilution. Why the capital raise if everything was as peachy as the ECB promised it had been? It turned out, nothing was peachy, and in fact DB would proceed to undergo a massive balance sheet deleveraging campaign over the next year, in which it would quietly dispose of all the ugly stuff on its balance sheet during the relentless Fed and BOJ-inspired “dash for trash” rally in a way not to spook investors about everything else that may be beneath the Deutsche covers.

We note this because moments ago, Deutsche Bank did the same again when it announced that it would issue yet another €1.5 billion in Tier 1 capital.

The issuance will be the third step in a co-ordinated series of measures, announced on 29 April 2013, to further strengthen the Bank’s capital structure and follows a EUR 3 billion equity capital raise in April 2013 and the issuance of USD 1.5 billion CRD4 compliant Tier 2 securities in May 2013. Today’s announced transaction is the first step towards reaching the overall targeted volume of approximately EUR 5 billion of CRD4 compliant Additional Tier 1 capital which the Bank plans to issue by the end of 2015

Ok, so in retrospect nothing is peachy in Frankfurt, and for all the constant lies about improving NPLs and rising cash flows, banks – especially those which not even the ECB can bailout when push comes to shove – Deutsche is as bad as it was a year ago.

So, just like last year when we decided to take a look inside the company’s financials to understand why DB was scrambling to dilute its shareholders and raise a few paltry billion in cash, so this year too, we had the pleasure of perusing the European megabank’s 10-K.

What we found, while hardly surprising for those who read out post from also a year ago, “At $72.8 Trillion, Presenting The Bank With The Biggest Derivative Exposure In The World (Hint: Not JPMorgan)“, is just as jarring.

Because while America’s largest bank by assets, and certainly ego of its CEO, that would be JPMorgan of course, had a whopping $70.4 trillion in total notional of derivative holdings (across futures, options, forwards, swaps, CDS, FX, and so on), Deutsche Bank once again put it well in the dust.

The number in question? €54,652,083,000,000. Which, converted into USD at the current exchange rate, amounts to $75,718,274,913,180. Which is over $5 trillion more than JPM’s total derivative holdings.

As we explained last year, the good news for Deutsche Bank’s accountants and shareholders, and for Germany’s spinmasters, is that through the magic of netting, this number collapses to €504.6 billion in positive market value exposure (assets), and €483.4 billion in negative market value exposure (liabilities), both of which are the single largest asset and liability line item in the firm’s €1.6 trillion balance sheet mind you (and down from €2 trillion a year ago: a 20% deleveraging which according to DB “was predominantly driven by interest-rate derivatives and shifts in U.S. dollar, euro and  pound sterling yield curves during the year, foreign exchange rate movements as well as trade restructuring to  reduce mark-to-market, improved netting and increased clearing”), and subsequently collapses even further into a “tidy little package” number of just €21.2 in titak derivative “assets.”

And as we further explained both last year and every other time we have the displeasure of having to explain the reality of gross vs net, this accounting gimmick works in theory, however in practice the theory falls apart the second there is discontinuity in the collateral chain as we have shown repeatedly in the past (and certainly when shadow funding conduits freeze up), and not only does the €21.2 billion number promptly cease to represent anything real, but the netted derivative exposure even promptlier become the gross number, somewhere north of $75 trillion.

The conclusion of this story has not changed one bit from last year: this epic derivative exposure is the primary reason why Germany, theatrically kicking and screaming for the past five years, has done everything in its power, even “yielding” to the ECB, to make sure there is no domino-like collapse of European banks, which would most certainly precipitate just the kind of collateral chain breakage and net-to-gross conversion that is what causes Anshu Jain, and every other bank CEO, to wake up drenched in sweat every night.

Finally, just to keep it all in perspective, below is a chart showing the GDP of both Germany and Europe compared to Deutsche Bank’s total derivative exposure. If nothing else, it should make clear, once and for all, just who is truly calling the Mutually Assured Destruction shots in Europe.

As always, there is nothing to worry about: this €55 trillion in derivative exposure, should everything go really, really bad is backed by the more than equitable €522 billion in deposits, or just over 100 times less.




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