The Second Biggest Delusion In US Culture

Submitted by James H. Kunstler of Kunstler.com,

The debate over Thomas Piketty’s new book Capital in the Twenty-First Century is as dumb as every other issue-set in the public arena these days — a product of failed mental models, historical blindness, hubris, and wishful thinking. Piketty’s central idea is that wealth will continue to accumulate and concentrate among individual rich families at ever-greater rates and therefore that nation-states should take a number of steps to prevent that from happening or at least attempt to correct it.

The first mistake of Piketty fans such as New York Times op-ed ass Paul Krugman is the assumption that the dynamic labeled “capitalism” is an ism, a belief system that you can subscribe to or drop out of, depending on your political correctitude. That’s just not true. So-called capitalism is more like gravity, a set of laws that apply to and describe the behavior of surplus wealth, in particular wealth generated by industrial societies, which is to say unprecedented massive wealth. The human race never saw anything quite like it before. It became both a moral embarrassment and a political inconvenience. So among the intellectual grandiosities of modern times is the idea that this massive wealth can be politically managed to produce an ideal equitable society — with no side effects.

Hence, the bold but hapless 20th century experiment with statist communism, which pretended to abolish wealth but succeeded mainly in converting wealth into industrial waste and pollution, while directing the remainder to a lawless gangster government elite that ruled an expendable mass peasantry with maximum cruelty and injustice.

In the other industrial nations, loosely called “the west,” the pretense to abolish wealth altogether never completely took, but a great deal of wealth was “socialized” for the purpose of delivering public goods. That seemed to work fairly well in post-war Europe and a bit less-well in the USA after the anomalous Eisenhower decade when industrial labor enjoyed a power moment of wage arbitrage. Now that system is unraveling, and for the reason that Piketty & Company largely miss: industrial economies are winding down with the decline of cheap fossil fuels.

Piketty and his fans assume that the industrial orgy will continue one way or another, in other words that some mysterious “they” will “come up with innovative new technologies” to obviate the need for fossil fuels and that the volume of wealth generated will more or less continue to increase. This notion is childish, idiotic, and wrong. Energy and technology are not substitutable with each other. If you run out of the former, you can’t replace it with the latter (and by “run out” I mean get it at a return of energy investment that makes sense). The techno-narcissist Jeremy Rifkins and Ray Kurzweils among us propound magical something-for-nothing workarounds for our predicament, but they are just blowing smoke up the collective fundament of a credulous ruling plutocracy. In fact, we’re faced with an unprecedented contraction of wealth, and a shocking loss of ability to produce new wealth. That‘s the real “game-changer,” not the delusions about shale oil and the robotic “industrial renaissance” and all the related fantasies circulating among a leadership that checked its brains at the Microsoft window.

Of course, even in a general contraction wealth will still exist, and Piketty is certainly right that it will tend to remain concentrated (where it isn’t washed away in the deluge of broken promises to pay this and that obligation). But he is quite incorrect that the general conditions we enjoy at this moment in history will continue a whole lot longer — for instance the organization of giant nation-states and their ability to control populations. I suppose it’s counter-intuitive in this moment of the “Deep State” with all its Orwellian overtones of electronic surveillance and omnipotence, but I’d take the less popular view that the Deep State will choke to death on the diminishing returns of technology and that nation-states in general will first degenerate into impotence and then break up into smaller units. What’s more, I’d propose that the whole world is apt to be going medieval, so to speak, as we contend with our energy predicament and its effects on wealth generation, banking, and all the other operations of modern capital. That is, they’ll become a lot less modern.

As all this occurs, some families and individuals will hang onto wealth, and that wealth is apt to increase, though not at the scales and volumes afforded by industrial activities. Political theorizing a la Marx or Thomas Piketty is not liable to deprive them of it, but other forces will. The most plausible framework for understanding that is the circulation of elites. This refers to the tendency in history for one ruling elite to be overturned and replaced by another group, often by violence, and then become the new ruling elite. It always happens one way or another, and even the case of the Bolsheviks in Russia during the industrial 20th century can be seen this way.

In any case, just because human affairs follow certain patterns these days, don’t assume that all these patterns will persist. I doubt that the Warren Buffets and Jamie Dimons of the world will see their wealth confiscated via some new policy of the Internal Revenue Service — e.g. the proposed “tax on wealth.” Rather, its more likely that they’ll be strung up on lampposts or dragged over three miles of pavement behind their own limousines. After all, the second leading delusion in our culture these days, after the wish for a something-for-nothing magic energy rescue remedy, is the idea that we can politically organize our way out of the epochal predicament of civilization that we face. Piketty just feeds that secondary delusion.




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Saxo Warns “Markets Are Drifting Into Dangerous Territory”

A lack of volatility in the markets is dangerous, according to Saxo Bank's Chief Economist Steen Jakobsen, who says we need to know why the danger will be with us for some time. In this brief clip he warns, "…the world seems to think there is a stable permanent equilibrium which doesn't make sense if you think about it, unemployment is still rising, debt to GDPs are still rising, the Crimea situation is increasing in tension, not decreasing, The US still has a lot of stuff to do on social security and welfare spending…for two or three years down the road, with no activity, the world will fall into not only deflation, but also a recession." Jakobsen predicts that, year on year, world growth will actually be "a big fat zero" and therefore the markets are drifting into dangerous territory

 


As Jakobsen notes,

My longest used chart for fixed income – confirmation is coming soon…..30-year to 2.50 percent

Remember this trend has continued despite 100 percent of macro strategist thinking US rates will be higher in six months time – despite extreme low volatility & complacency – despite the so-called: Great rotation.

Of course it reflects deflation, lack of growth and extremely poor policy responses, which this morning was indirectly admitted by Fed chief Janet Yellen:

Yellen concerned Fed model offers distorted prediction on prices

Yes, the policy makers talk, but the market clearly disagree, especially the bond market.

Imagine if Russia/Ukraine “really” is at true geopolitical risk, if lowflation is not transitory, if growth does not come back again this year, if central banks have no alternative at zero bound, if European Central Bank chief Draghi is bluffing (as he often does)….., if China devalues…. ?

No, it will never happen. We have great diplomatic efforts being expended on Russia, central banks understanding the true economy and politicians who are committed and fully in line with the real economy, plus an extremely strong bank sector – The King is dead, long live the King….

Greed is good – Leeman BrothaZ




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Beware The Social Tipping Point

Submitted by Jeff Thomas via Doug Casey's International Man blog,

We have often suggested that, if we wish to know what is coming politically, socially, and economically in jurisdictions such as the EU and US, we might have a look at countries like Argentina and Venezuela, as they are in a similar state of near-collapse (for the very same reasons as the EU and US) but are a bit further along in the historical pattern.

Such a bellwether was seen in Argentina recently. Although the event in question is a very minor one, it is an illustration of the social tipping point—the manner in which a government loses control over its people.

Briefly, the events were as follows: Two men on a motorbike cruised a posh neighbourhood in Buenos Aires, seeking opportunities for purse-snatching. The pillion rider dismounted and snatched a purse from a woman. Bystanders saw the act, ran down the thief before he could re-mount the motorbike, and knocked him to the ground. Other onlookers (very possibly fed up with street crime caused by economic hardships) joined in. In a fury, they beat the thief senseless.

A policewoman managed to calm the group and handcuff the thief. Twenty minutes later, police assistance and an ambulance arrived.

Furious neighbours complained bitterly that the police had protected the thief but are generally doing little to protect law-abiding citizens.

Similar occurrences are on the increase in Argentina, and they have reached the point that the public have begun lynching thieves, as they increasingly believe that the police no longer serve to protect the people.

The pattern that is playing out can be described as a six-part process, and in Argentina, part five has been reached. Essentially, the process is this:

1. People Seek Ever-Increasing Government Largesse

This occurs over a period of decades. It begins with politicians seeking to either gain or retain office, advising the public that they should have a "right" to receive largesse from their government. Over time, the public, liking the idea of receiving something that they have not earned, warm to it and come to believe in its validity. Increasingly, the government takes money from the pockets of one group of citizens and "redistributes" it to others to whom it has made the promises.

2. Government Runs Out of Money

As elections occur every four or five years in most countries, the frequency of elections means a regular ramping-up in the level of promises to the electorate. Over time, the source group (those whose earnings are being appropriated) becomes tapped–out. (As British PM Maggie Thatcher said, "The trouble with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money."

At this point, the government can no longer deliver on its promises of largesse. But, the recipients have come to believe that they truly are entitled to the largesse, that it is their money and either the government or the greedy rich are withholding their money.

3. Citizens Become Increasingly Desperate

The citizens, who have become less productive and more dependant as a result of the largesse, now find themselves unable to afford even basic needs. Some begin to do desperate things in order to survive. Crime increases. Whilst police may address such crimes after the fact, they cannot anticipate them.

4. Vigilantism Arises

As crime increases unabated, citizens, in their frustration, come to blame not only the criminals, but also the police. At some point, acts of violence against criminals begin to occur, as citizens begin to take matters into their own hands. This trend expands, sometimes to the point that vigilante groups form.

5. Government Attempts to Maintain Order at All Costs

Governments at this point tend not to remain cool and crack down more on criminals. Instead, they tend to make the mistake of lashing out at those who defend themselves against the criminals. (In the example above, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner made a statement to the public that, "Some people want us to return to barbarism; some people want us to react violently." She urged officials and the public to be "rational and civilized," and affirmed "education and social inclusion are the ultimate ways of solving these problems.")

6. Government Becomes the Enemy

Once such a pronouncement is made by a political leader, the social tipping point has been reached. The public, having first been angered by the criminals, turn their anger toward the police and, finally, toward their political leader. When the public realise that the formerly seemingly benevolent leader holds their welfare in no more regard than she holds the criminals who prey on them, she becomes a pariah.

So, why on earth, do political leaders, throughout history, make the same mistake over and over? Why do they reveal the truth—that they actually have no concern for their minions?

At first, when the crimes begin, the leader is personally unaffected and has little concern. As crime increases, it is not the crime that the leader finds objectionable, but the grumblings of the people. It does not occur to the leader that to say, essentially, "Too bad for ya—suck it up," is the absolute worst approach to take.

What then, drives leaders to almost invariably take the wrong public stance in such instances? To answer this, we need only to look at leadership myopically, as does the leader. Leaders tend to care little, if at all, for the welfare of the electorate, who only exist to ensure reinstatement every few years. Otherwise, they are of no consequence. They are tolerated and pandered to, but they must never dare to supplant the authority of the leader. When the public develop the moral spine that is required to make themselves judge and jury, they are assuming an authority that belongs to the leader alone, and they are, therefore, a greater threat to the government than the criminals.

The leader's sole true concern is that the government hold the exclusive right of control. Above all, she dictates the maintenance of order.

And the leader has good cause for this concern in such an instance. Once such vigilantism becomes "necessary" in the eyes of the public, they have unconsciously taken back the authority of who is in charge. When this happens, this jig is up, as the population twigs onto the concept that they not only need to take charge of their lives, but they can. Of such realizations are revolutions made.

The beating of a thief is, in itself, a minor event, but these events often become social tipping points. (Witness the self-immolation of a street vendor in Tunisia in 2011.)

If there is a lesson to be learned from events such as this one in Argentina, it is that the EU and US are not far behind in their socio-economic/political deterioration. Perhaps the reason that the dominant powers in the world today are ramping up their internal defence systems so dramatically is that they see the writing on the wall.

The reader is then left with two questions: 1) Will his country soon be facing dramatic inner turmoil that may be a threat to his well-being? And, 2) Would he be better served if he were to prepare an alternate location in which to be, if the fur begins to fly?




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Herbalife’s Earnings, And Carl Icahn’s Activist Strategy, Summarized In Two Charts

Moments ago, Herbalife reported results which at first blush were far stronger than expected: revenues of $1.26 billion above the expected $1.23 billion, with (non-GAAP) EPS of $1.50 compared to expectations of $1.30, and well above the $1.27 last quarter. What, won’t get much emphasis is that of this $1.50, a whopping $0.66, or $66.6 million, is an addback related to “remeasurement loss relating to Venezuela” – considering the country is a devaluing basket case, to assume that any FX related losses in the banana republic are “one-time” is the height of folly. However, as everyone knows, for a company like Herbalife actual earnings hardly matter. What matters is how much shareholder friendly magic will the Icahn-controlled management team pull out of its hat. And it pulled out a lot.

Perhaps the most notable announcement was that the company would terminate its $30 million/quarter dividend in order to “accelerate cash returns to shareholders” in the form of share buybacks. Surely great news for William Ackman who no longer will have to pay the dividends courtesy of his stock short, this is what HLF said:

The company now expects to repurchase a total of $581 million of its outstanding common stock during the second quarter of 2014 as part of its previously announced $1.5 billion share repurchase program. The $581 million is comprised of the approximately $315 million expected to be purchased in April as part of a 10b5-1 trading plan ($255 million already completed as of Friday, April 25); plus the $50 million included in previous guidance and $216 million that otherwise was expected to be returned to shareholders in the form of quarterly cash dividends over the next eight quarters.

 

Mr. Johnson stated, “Our strong sustained financial performance and the current market valuation of our shares make repurchasing stock the most attractive method of returning capital to shareholders and reflects our continued commitment to creating long-term value for our shareholders.”

And just as notable in addition to the acceleration of the stock buyback (why does the company suddenly feel the urge to hand over its cash to shareholders – would several investigations into whether it is a Ponzi have anything to do with it), is the amount of debt Herbalife issued in order to find its $695 million Q1 buyback (and $581 million expected in Q2). But instead of telling, we’ll show.

The chart below summarizes the three key cash sources and uses of funds for Herbalife: cash from operations, stock buybacks and debt issuance proceeds. See if you can spot the pattern:

 

And just to clarify the pattern above, here is a chart of Herbalife’s total debt. It probably needs no highlighting, but toal debt doubled in the first quarter to $1.85 billion, with well over half of the debt issuance proceeds going to fund the stock bought back in the quarter.

 

What to make of this, and why the sudden scramble to make Herbalife into the biggest cash piggybank available?

Simple: the FTC, DOJ and FBI are investigating Herbalife whether it is a Ponzi scheme, that much is clear. However, neither iCahn, nor the management team, nor shareholders are looking forward to being around when the conclusion of said inquiries is revealed. And, as a result, by the time the various probes are over, Herbalife will be a massively levered debt-to-equity passthrough vehicle, which uses a tiny fraction of cash from operations, together with gargantuan leverage, to syphon off as much cash from the company to (activist) shareholders as humanly possible.

In fact, if Uncle Carl succeeds, by the time the FBI is done investigating, Herbalife will have so much debt it will be weeks if not days away from a bankruptcy filing. In the meantime Icahn will reap all the benfits of the operational entity, and leave the discarded, debt-bloaded carcass to John Q Public, without having to worry at all what happens to the company once the debt spree is finished and what happens to the company in bankruptcy court.

Activism 101, QED.




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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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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!

 

 

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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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