Tag Archives: economic collapse

Many Americans Are Living In A Financial/Economic Nightmare

The following is guest post from a Mining Stock Journal subscriber who runs a family business in the northeast part of the country:

Our family has been in business here for over 100 years. Presently we run a collection of consumer-based businesses, including a hotel, restaurant and an apartment complex. We have very well run businesses with tight controls. All my top managers have been with the company for well over two decades.

Because of the nature of our businesses and related customer base, I have a first-hand, “front row view” of the economic condition of the average household. I can say with direct knowledge that the average American has entered an income and debt nightmare.

I’m writing you because the entire area where I live and work has finally hit a wall of debt. It’s gutted our customers, our businesses, and the entire economy in my area…Everybody including small and mid-size businesses use debt to maintain their daily existence.

It finally showed up in ALL of our business starting this spring…our customers are BROKE and not coming thru the doors. Everyone up here lives by increasing their credit card balance each month, except for the very few that have their entire life savings in overvalued stocks. Before I wrote this, I asked my managers about their friends, family, and our employees. All are broke, living paycheck to paycheck.

Even in the alt-media, there is plenty written about the consumer being tapped out, but few are mentioning small and mid size businesses. Most are in the EXACT shape as the general public – just the numbers are bigger.

The drug use…heroin/meth is OUT OF CONTROL, a huge percentage of people up here can only survive with State and Federal assistance.

Dave, I’m not a gloom and doom’er, but starting the spring of this year…something changed…it’s like a wall was hit. You can bet your ass this area of the county is a mirror image of what I see in my businesses and the surrounding communities. Something is close Dave, very close. I have never seen anything like it in my 60 years. We both know what’s coming, and it’s not good.

Sorry I don’t have positive news……but it’s the truth!!

What’s Going On With Gold?

Several of us who stick our neck out in public with analytic opinions on the market have been thinking  that gold has reached a tradable bottom.  I’m sure many would say that view is flawed based on today’s action.  Let me preface my thoughts by saying that, over the last 17 years of daily active involvement in the precious metals sector, I don’t pull my hair out over intra-day or even intra-year volatility.  Measured from the beginning of 2002, gold is up 441% while the S&P 500 is up 158%.

The point here is that, given how easy it is to print up paper gold contracts and flood the market, the price of gold can do anything on any given day. If you want to own gold for the reasons to own gold, you have be play the long game. The mining stocks do not seem to care about the day-to-day vagaries of the gold price right now. You shouldn’t either.

The trading pattern in gold is somewhat similar to its trading pattern in the summer of 2008, right before the great financial crisis (de facto banking system collapse) was set in motion.   The price of gold was taken down from $1020 in mid-March to $700 by October, while the financial system was melting down. That set up gold’s record run to $1900 over the next three years.

It’s becoming obvious to anyone who chooses to not put their head in the sand or become intoxicated with the copious amounts of official propaganda, that the U.S. Government is technically bankrupt and the financial bubbles fomented by a decade of money printing, credit creation and near-zero interest rates are about to explode.  It’s not coincidental that gold was slammed ahead of Congressional testimony by Fed-head Jerome Powell, one of the primary propaganda-spinning hand-puppets.

Gold started rolling downhill after the London a.m. fix. Right after it. The cliff-dive occurred as the Comex floor was opening. This is a pure paper operation. It’s either the hedge funds or the banks piling into the short-side of the market by flooding the market with paper gold and hitting all bids in sight. The managed money category of trader segment in the COT report has been getting net short and more net short the last two weeks. Hedge funds could be shorting even more paper gold, trying to push it further downhill to book profits on their shorts. OR it could be the banks piling into the short side but hide this by booking the trades they report to the CME (daily o/i) and the CFTC (weekly COT) into the managed money trader account in the COT report.

The latter is entirely possible. JP Morgan was already caught once doing this in silver. If you don’t trust the Government to report the truth, why would you trust the banks to report the truth? After all, the banks ARE the Government.

Today’s action has nothing to do with the $/yuan to gold relationship or the $/yen to gold relationship. The dollar is higher and gold usually trades inversely to the dollar. Gold likely is being managed like this to help disguise the coming financial and economic bombs that are set to explode – just like in 2008.

We’re dealing with a system in which banks and other big corporations control the Government and there is no RULE OF LAW whatsoever. Think about what you would do if you completely lacked a moral compass and were in control of the system, to a large degree. You would do exactly what they are doing. And I’m not talking about just gold. It’s everything. They have used debt to put the squeeze on the population.

The Yield Curve Is The Economy’s Canary In A Coal Mine

The economy has hit a wall and is now sliding down it. I don’t care what bullish propaganda may or may not be bubbling up in the headlines from the financial media and Wall Street, the hard numbers I look at everyday show accelerating economic weakness. The fact that my view is contrary to mainstream consensus and political propaganda reinforces my conviction that my view about the economy is correct.

As an example of the ongoing underlying systemic decay and collapse conveyed by this week’s title, it was announced that General Electric would be removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average index and replaced by Walgreen’s. GE was an original member of the index starting in 1896 and was a continuous member since  1907.

GE is an original equipment manufacturer and industrial product innovator. It’s products are used in broad array of applications at all levels of the economy globally.  It is considered a “GDP company.” GE was iconic of American innovation and economic dominance. Walgreen’s is a consumer products reseller that sells pharmaceuticals and junk. Emblematic of the entire system, GE has suffocated itself with poor management which guided the company into a cess-pool of financial leverage and hidden derivatives.

As expressed in past issues (the Short Seller’s Journal), I don’t put a lot of stock in the regional Fed economic surveys, which are heavily shaded by “hope” and “expectation” metrics that are used to inflate the overall index level. These are so-called “soft” data reports. But now even the “outlook” and “expectations” measurements are falling quickly (see last week’s Philly Fed report). The Trump “hope premium” that inflated the stock market starting in November 2016 has left the building.

Something wicked this way comes:  Notwithstanding mainstream media rationalizations to the contrary, a flattening of the yield curve always always always precedes a contraction in economic activity (aka “a recession”). Always. Don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise. An “inverted” yield curve occurs when short term yields exceed long term yields. When the yield curve inverts, it means something wicked is going to hit the financial and economic system.

Prior to the financial crisis in 2008, the yield curve was inverted for short periods of time during 2007. The most simple explanation for why inversion occurs is that performance-driven capital flows from riskier investments into the the longer end of the Treasury curve, driving the yield on the long end below the short end. The expectation is that the Fed will be forced to cut short term rates drastically – thereby driving the short-end lower, which in turn pulls the entire yield curve lower (the yield curve “shifts” down). This gives investors in the long-end a better rate-of-return performance on their capital than holding short term Treasuries for safety. The Fed’s dilemma will be complicated by the fact that it does not have much room to cut rates in order to combat a deep recession.

Studies have shown that curve inversions precede a recession anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. I would argue that, stripping away the affects of inflation and data manipulation, real economic activity has been somewhat recessionary for several years. The massive intervention in the Treasury market by the Fed, ECB and Bank of Japan has muted the true price discovery mechanism of the Treasury curve. The curve has been barely upward sloping for quite some time relative to history.  This could indeed be history’s equivalent of an inverted curve. That being the case, if an inversion occurs despite the Fed’s attempts to prevent it, it means that whatever is going to hit the U.S. and global financial and economic system is going to be worse than what occurred in 2008.

A note on gold and silver: The massive take-down in the price of gold and silver, which is occurring primarily during the trading hours of the LBMA and the Comex – both of which are paper derivative markets – is quite similar to the take-down that occurred in the metals preceding the collapse of Bear and Lehman in 2008. It is imperative that the price of gold’s function as a warning signal is de-fused in order to keep the public wallowing in ignorance – just like in 2008.  But keep an eye on the stock prices of Deutsche Bank, Goldman and Morgan Stanley – as well as the Treasury yield curve…

The US Economy Is Failing – Paul Craig Roberts

IRD Note:    Along with the housing market, the entire economy is beginning to collapse. Unless the Fed implements another round of trillions in money printing, the laws of economics will take control of the system. With the housing market, the point of inflection downward began to occur in late spring/early summer. I have detailed this assertion with copious amounts of data and ways to profit from this insight in recent  Short Seller’s Journals.  Despite the melt-up in homebuilder stocks, one of my ideas from last week was down 10% through Friday.

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The commentary below is by Paul Craig Roberts:

Do the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page editors read their own newspaper?

The front page headline story for the Labor Day weekend was “Low Wage Growth Challenges Fed.” Despite an alleged 4.4% unemployment rate, which is full employment, there is no real growth in wages. The front page story pointed out correctly that an economy alleged to be expanding at full employment, but absent any wage growth or inflation, is “a puzzle that complicates Federal Reserve policy decisions.”

On the editorial page itself, under “letters to the editor,” Professor Tony Lima of California State University points out what I have stressed for years: “The labor-force participation rate remains at historic lows. Much of the decrease is in the 18-34 age group, while participation rates have increased for those 55 and older.” Professor Lima points out that more evidence that the American worker is not in good shape comes from the rising number of Americans who can only find part-time work, which leaves them with truncated incomes and no fringe benefits, such as healh care.

Positioned right next to this factual letter is the lead editorial written by someone who read neither the front page story or the professor’s letter. The lead editorial declares: “The biggest labor story this Labor Day is the trouble that employers are having finding workers across the country.” The Journal’s editorial page editors believe the solution to the alleged labor shortage is Senator Ron Johnson’s (R.Wis.) bill to permit the states to give 500,000 work visas to foreigners.

In my day as a Wall Street Journal editor and columnist, questions would have been asked that would have nixed the editorial. For example, how is there a labor shortage when there is no upward pressure on wages? In tight labor markets wages are bid up as employers compete for workers. For example, how is the labor market tight when the labor force participation rate is at historical lows. When jobs are available, the participation rate rises as people enter the work force to take the jobs.

I have reported on a number of occasions that according to Federal Reserve studies, more Americans in the 24-34 age group live at home with parents than independently, and that it is those 55 and older who are taking the part time jobs. Why is this? The answer is that part time jobs do not pay enough to support an independent existence, and the Federal Reserve’s decade long zero interest rate policy forces retirees to enter the work force as their retirement savings produce no income. It is not only the manufacturing jobs of the middle class blue collar workers that have been given to foreigners in order to cut labor costs and thus maximize payouts to executives and shareholders, but also tradable professional skill jobs such as software engineering, design, accounting, and IT—jobs that Americans expected to get in order to pay off their student loans.

The Wall Street Journal editorial asserts that the young are not in the work force because they are on drugs, or on disability, or because of their poor education. However, all over the country there are college graduates with good educations who cannot find jobs because the jobs have been offshored. To worsen the crisis, a Republican Senator from Wisconsin wants to bring in more foreigners on work permits to drive US wages down lower so that no American can survive on the wage, and the Wall Street Journal editorial page editors endorse this travesty!

The foreigners on work visas are paid one-third less than the going US wage. They live together in groups in cramped quarters. They have no employee rights. They are exploited in order to raise executive bonuses and shareholder capital gains. I have exposed this scheme at length in my book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism (Clarity Press, 2013).

When Trump said he was going to bring the jobs home, he resonated, but, of course, he will not be permitted to bring them home, any more than he has been permitted to normalize relations with Russia.

In America Government is not in the hands of its people. Government is in the hands of a ruling oligarchy. Oligarchic rule prevails regardless of electoral outcomes. The American people are entering a world of slavery more severe than anything that previously existed. Without jobs, dependent on their masters for trickle-down benefits that are always subject to being cut, and without voice or representation, Americans, except for the One Percent, are becoming the most enslaved people in history.

Americans carry on by accumulating debt and becoming debt slaves. Many can only make the minimum payment on their credit card and thus accumulate debt. The Federal Reserve’s policy has exploded the prices of financial assets. The result is that the bulk of the population lacks discretionary income, and those with financial assets are wealthy until values adjust to reality.

As an economist I cannot identify in history any economy whose affairs have been so badly managed and prospects so severely damaged as the economy of the United States of America. In the short/intermediate run policies that damage the prospects for the American work force benefit what is called the One Percent as jobs offshoring reduces corporate costs and financialization transfers remaining discretionary income in interest and fees to the financial sector. But as consumer discretionary incomes disappear and debt burdens rise, aggregate demand falters, and there is nothing left to drive the economy.

What we are witnessing in the United States is the first country to reverse the development process and to go backward by giving up industry, manufacturing, and tradable professional skill jobs. The labor force is becoming Third World with lowly paid domestic service jobs taking the place of high-productivity, high-value added jobs.

The initial response was to put wives and mothers into the work force, but now even many two-earner families experience stagnant or falling material living standards. New university graduates are faced with substantial debts without jobs capable of producing sufficient income to pay off the debts.

Now the US is on a course of travelling backward at a faster rate. Robots are to take over more and more jobs, displacing more people. Robots don’t buy houses, furniture, appliances, cars, clothes, food, entertainment, medical services, etc. Unless Robots pay payroll taxes, the financing for Social Security and Medicare will collapse. And it goes on down from there. Consumer spending simply dries up, so who purcheses the goods and services supplied by robots?

To find such important considerations absent in public debate suggests that the United States will continue on the country’s de-industrialization, de-manufacturing trajectory.

On The Home-Stretch To Collapse

The warning signs are there but very few look for them or want to see them. But it’s a dynamic in which once you see it you can’t “unsee” it. A teacher I know told me this morning that Colorado school districts are quietly cutting staff across all districts. The only reason this would be occurring is that the State is projecting a decline in tax revenues. The only reason tax revenues would be declining is because economic activity is slowing or contracting. And Colorado supposedly has one of the more “vibrant” State economies.

The soaring level of “hope” that, for some unexplainable reason, accompanied the election of Trump is now crashing. The so-called “hard data” which somewhat measures the level of economic activity never moved higher in order to justify the optimism – an optimism tragically seeded in ignorance. As an example, the Kansas City Fed released its economic survey today. The composite index crashed from 20 to 7. Not surprisingly, Wall Street snake-oil salesmen – otherwise known as “economists” – were expecting a reading of 17 on the index.

As for individual components of the index, the average workweek and number of employees dropped; the production component of the index fell precipitously; and new orders collapsed. In fact, new orders expectations fell below the pre-Trump level. The six-month outlook metric – aka the hope index – plunged to its lowest level since November.

The truth is that all of the regional Fed economic activity surveys were largely driven by “hope,” which registered in the form of new orders for goods that will sit on the shelves of car dealers and non-food retailers and in the form of “expectations” about the level of economic activity in six months.

But there has not been any follow-through in form of actual growth in economic activity to justify the unrealistic level of “hope.” Real disposable income and the real level of retail/auto sales have been declining on the way to a tail-spin plunge. Any pulsations in final retail sales and home purchases have been fueled by the parabolic issuance of sub-prime quality debt. In fact, an increasing percentage of home purchases are from aspiring flippers. We are at the point in the cycle, just like 2007-2008, in which many of these flipper purchases will never end up with end-users and instead will land on bank balance sheets.

Auto sales through the end of March were down 10% since the beginning of 2017, resulting in the steepest decline in auto sales since 2009.  New car inventory at some of the biggest auto dealers around Denver is spilling over into the giant parking lots at vacant malls as OEMs push overproduction onto the dealer network.   Once the debt capacity of those still buying pick-up trucks at record incentive pricing hits the wall, the auto industry will see a spectacular cliff-dive.  The Government is too broke to provide the “cash for clunker” safety-net put in place in 2010.

In addition to trillions in printed (electronically generated) currency, the Fed has been able to fabricate the illusion of economic growth with an enormous amount of credit creation.   Credit is debt-issuance.   The part about debt that is conveniently overlooked by economists is that borrowed money behaves like printed money until it has to be repaid. The problem is that most debt created in the U.S. is never repaid.  For instance, the level of outstanding Government debt has been increasing every day since before Nixon closed the gold window.  This is not “debt” in the traditional sense of a loan that gets repaid.  This is money printing.

Consumer  and corporate debt levels have been rising in parabolic fashion and are at all-time highs.  Given that large chunks of this debt will never be repaid, just like in 2008-2009, the issuance of this debt is the same as printed money.  Amusingly, though not surprisingly, the Fed stopped reporting the total amount of debt outstanding in the system (Government + Corporate + Household) on March 25, 2016.  On that day the total debt outstanding was $63.5 trillion.  It’s likely well over $65 trillion by now.   That debt, until it’s repaid, is no different that printed currency.

This would be great in a pretend world in which debt could be issued to borrowers ad infinitum.  It would be the proverbial money tree on which free lunches blossomed for everyone forever.  Unfortunately, debt can not be issued in increasing amounts to eternity. Currently it would appear as if the non-Government borrower segment of the debt statistic has reached its borrowing capacity.   It happens gradually then all at once.   The United States is getting close to the “all at once” stage.

This is why the Deep State has resorted to the last stage of history’s Empiric life-cycle curve:  when all else fails start a war…

 

Gold And Silver Are Potentially Explosive

Gold and silver are acting differently right now. Usually when the open interest in the paper gold (Comex) net short of the bullion banks becomes overweighted, it’s a signal that they are getting ready attack the price of gold by triggering massive stop-loss selling by the technically-driven hedge funds.

And through last Tuesday, per the latest COT report, the Comex banks had piled heavily into the short side, feeding paper shorted to the hedge funds. And true to form, the market was attacked aggressively this past week starting Tuesday with the expiration of Comex options. Interestingly, the banks had to wait until after the Comex floor trading closed on Tuesday in order to take advantage of a thinly-traded electronic “access” market that is open for about another 90 minutes after the Comex closes in order to push down the price of gold enough to trigger automated hedge fund algo stop-loss selling.

The attacks on the price of gold persisted through Thursday, resulting in what appears to be a record weekly percentage drop in Comex gold open interest. But this attack resulted in a shallow price decline.  And if you trace the build-up in the bullion bank short position over the past couple of weeks, it appears that the banks were willing to sustain losses on those shorted contracts in order to cover them.  Bill “Midas” Murphy at Lemetropole Cafe first pointed this pattern out to me and I confirmed his theory by tracing out the rise in the commercial short interest with the movement in the price of gold.

At the same time, there has been a massive amount of silver – as reported – moving in and out of the “registered” accounts at the Comex silver vaults.  The silver in the “registered” account is the silver designated to be available for delivery.   On the last two days of this past week, for instance, nearly 30% of the silver held in the registered account was moved into the “eligible” account. The “eligible” account is the account in which silver is allegedly “safekept” for the owner of that silver.

Finally, although the mainstream financial media and the fear porn oriented alternative media has been making a lot of noise about the sudden fall-off in the sales of minted bullion coins, I heard a report from a large bullion dealer who said that, while retail coin sales are slow, his company has been receiving very large orders from very connected quite off the radar types purchasing large quantities of physical silver. The recurring theme from these buyers is a desire to move money out of electronic fiat currency bank credits and into privately safe-kept precious metals in bullion form.

Eric Dubin (The News Doctors) and “Doc” invited me to join them on their weekly Metals and Markets podcast to discuss the latest developments which point to possibility of a big surprise move to the upside in gold and silver that is driven by the physical market:

Rare Honesty From A Corporate CEO

In my view, the mood of these markets is in stark contrast with the many unknown from our current economic and political landscape, both here and abroad. For me, it’s a major disconnect, and it concerns me.  – James Tisch, Loews CEO (call transcript sourced from from Seeking Alpha)

James Tisch shared some extraordinarily candid observations about the financial markets on Loews Corp’s Q4 earnings conference call on Monday.   I say “extraordinary” because I do not believe I have ever heard, in well over 30 years of capital markets experience, any corporate CEO – or any corporate officer – ever speak honestly about the condition of the financial markets.

With regard to the amount of capital and credit made available by the Fed:

In the credit markets, spreads on the high yield securities are approaching historically tight levels, while key credit metrics such as leverage and coverage ratios are showing signs of weakening. The leverage loan market has been overrun by such massive inflows of capital that you could probably get loan to buy a fleet of zeppelins at this point in time.

That statement references the flood cheap capital made available by the Fed that has facilitated the greatest mis-allocation of capital since Greenspan inflated the tech bubble and Bernanke inflated the housing/mortgage bubble.

The merger market is being driven by large pools of private and corporate buyers, the wave of private capital combined with the abundance of available leverage at remarkably low rates has enabled private equity firms to pay big prices for companies that haven’t already been gobbled up by strategic buyers.

That statement is quite remarkable.  Thinly veiled in diplomatic finesse, Tisch essentially acknowledges that the private equity investors have fomented a massive M&A bubble and are significantly overpaying for acquisitions.

And the coup de grace:

In my opinion, the markets are priced for perfection, and they have been that way for quite some time, complacency reign supreme. However, my experience has shown me that this state of affairs won’t go on indefinitely.

In short, the market is historically overvalued and it will not end well for those who continue to hold long positions in the stock market.

In 2000 Greenspan has created a tech bubble which he said he could not see.  In late 2007 there was a housing and mortgage bubble, the existence of which Bernanke denied.  And now there’s an “everything” bubble, to which Yellen is role-playing Hellen Keller.

Panera Bread stock is a text-book example of the insanity in the stock market right now. PNRA announced earnings yesterday and “beat” the Street.  But here’s a synopsis of its numbers:

System-wide same store sales increased just .7%.  Franchise SSS dropped 1.4%. Franchised stores are 55% of the store base. Operating margin dropped 40 basis points. Net income in Q4 dropped $22.8 million from $24.7 million in 2015. Company bought back nearly $400 million in stock during 2016. It just issued another $200 million in debt. If it wasn’t buying back shares, it would not have needed to issue that debt. The share buybacks make the EPS look better but the net income of operations fell quarter over quarter and year over year.  That’s how PNRA “beat:” financial engineering because its net income declined quarter over quarter (2016 vs. 2015) and year over year.  – excerpt from an email exchange with a Short Seller’s Journal subscriber

For that, PNRA stock is up 8.4% today.  A $4 million year over year drop in net income has generated a $400 million one-day jump in PNRA’s market cap. This stock is trading at 38x trailing income as its ability to generate profits.  No wonder insiders are selling stock more quickly than passengers jumped off the Titanic.

I look at dozens of companies every week and insiders are furiously shoveling their shares into the market at well over 90% of these companies.  They all understand the same problem in the capital markets to which Tisch addressed.  In that latter regard, it was as refreshing as it was unique to come across an insider who was honest.

Goldman to Trump: Situation Assessment, Government Bail-ins, Precious Metals Threat: Systemic Collapse

A guest post from Stewart Dougherty. Stewart included some thoughts in his email to me that I thought should be shared as a preface to his essay:

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Hi Dave:
Some pretty heady stuff, particularly the part about the Fed’s balance sheet being a lie. (I am 100% convinced of this, but cannot prove it, at least not yet.) And remember, Bernanke was caught issuing $10 trillion in swaps to foreign banks, all of which was supposed to remain a complete secret. It is not as if they haven’t been caught doing what I am saying they are still doing, to an even larger degree.

I’ve stated that the “conversation” is imagined, intuited and fictional, so the small living parts of the shredded Constitution might actually protect my freedom of speech; wouldn’t that be amazing.

I believe “government bail-ins” is fresh terminology … people hear about bank bail-ins all the time … but they don’t hear about government bail-ins, which are going to affect far more people and are inevitable. (As I’ll explain in Part 2, government bail-ins are not going to be about taxes … tax increases are too slow, and oftentimes don’t even work.) Since it’s new, the term government bail-ins might gain a lot of attention.

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Despite Goldman’s avid support for Hillary Clinton, fewer than three weeks after the election, Gary Cohn, the number two executive at Goldman Sachs met privately at Trump Tower with the President-elect. Ten days later, he was named to one of the most powerful financial positions in the world, Director of the National Economic Council of the United States of America.

As they say, knowledge is power, and power is knowledge; both open doors, ears and minds when they decide to. What could Cohn have said to Trump that resulted in his near-immediate hire? Using the Inferential Analytics methodology, we have synthesized a message a visitor of Cohn’s stature might have conveyed to Trump on November 29, 2016. And while it is inferred, intuited and fictional, the following transcript is deeply grounded in the nation’s current and prospective fiscal, financial, monetary and economic situation.

The Visitor: “I appreciate your invitation and it is a pleasure to meet with you today. Permit me to convey Lloyd’s congratulations. He would like to assure you that you have Goldman’s full support going forward.

“Our time is short, so I will give you a very high level situation assessment. Thousands of person hours and millions of dollars’ worth of research and analysis stand behind each of the themes I will touch on, and we can provide additional details if you wish. As one of the U.S. government’s closest financial allies for decades, particularly when it comes to the placement of the nation’s sovereign debt, we have a deep understanding of the financial dynamics at work. When I use the term “we,” it is because Goldman and the United States government have been close business partners for many years.

“As you correctly stated to the American people during your campaign, the situation is not good. It is containable at this time, but only if we continue to run substantial deficits and create large sums of new dollars, in other words, debt. With all due respect, we believe the U.S. government is going to need our help as never before in the coming months and years.

“I will briefly touch on nine topics. There are others we could discuss, but these tell the most important part of the tale. They are: 1) Deficits; 2) Debt; 3) Reporting; 4) War; 5) Perception; 6) Stocks; 7) Money Creation; 8) Currency; and, 9) Precious Metals.

“As you may know, I started my financial career as a Comex trader, and Lloyd began his as a gold dealer at J. Aron, which was acquired by Goldman. We both have extensive experience in the Precious Metals markets, and believe they are going to be of incalculable significance in the near future. I will review this topic later.

“All I ask is that you not shoot the messenger. Much of what I tell you is troubling.

“First, the deficits are structurally non-containable. The OMB itself confirms this, projecting escalating deficits for the next 50 years, with not one year of surplus during that entire time. The aggregate deficit during the next decade alone will be at least $10 trillion. If there is a slowdown or recession, it will be greater or even much greater. The deficits can only be reined by a massive political reset and wholesale reneging on the entire social contract, including Medicare, Social Security, public pensions and welfare. Such a reset would result in an economic collapse. Therefore, it is not feasible, although it could be forced upon us by endogenous or exogenous events that would take the situation out of our hands.

“The debt has gone vertical, rising from $10 to $20 trillion in eight years. Obama created more debt than all other presidents in the previous 230 years, combined. This amount does not include the federal government’s net, unfunded liabilities, which are an additional $150+ trillion, and growing by trillions per year on a GAAP accounting basis. Please understand that his shadow, unfunded debt is net of projected tax receipts; in other words, it is completely out of control.

“Debt is now increasing at an accelerating rate, with $1.4 trillion added last year alone. This debt can never be paid in future dollars having value anywhere even close to today’s, but for now at least, we are still able to peddle it. We do know that for us to successfully distribute the debt in the future, interest rates will have to go higher, which will compound the fundamental deficit and debt problems. Otherwise, we will have to print money on a scale never before seen, which will further damage the value of the dollar. There is a limit to how badly currencies can be damaged; they can and do go into freefall. Several are, as we speak.

“The so-called economic recovery has been false. The Obama administration, with the full support of the Fed created $10 trillion in counterfeit dollars and threw them at the economy, funding everything including non-stop wars, Food Stamps, a vast expansion of government, subsidized Obamacare, solar panel cronies, fund-raising and golf trips, you name it. It’s all included in the nation’s deliberately and, frankly, fraudulently inflated GDP. We understand; it had to be done, and we helped make it happen by being expert debt pushers.

“Some like to think that we can grow our way out of the deficits and debt, but our analysis disagrees. Assume 4% GDP growth. Given an $18 trillion economy (ours is not, as explained above, but let’s say it is), 4% growth means a GDP increase of $720 billion in Year 1. Let’s say the federal government is able to collect in taxes 25% of the gross GDP increase, a wildly optimistic assumption. That would produce $180 billion in incremental revenue. But the structural deficits, as reflected by the increases in debt, exceed $1 trillion per year. Even 4% GDP growth will hardly make a dent in the fiscal hemorrhaging. And to prime the pump for such growth, the government will have to spend a few hundred billion dollars per year on infrastructure spending and the like. This will fully negate the incremental taxes. So we have to dig a deeper fiscal hole for the privilege of digging an ever deeper fiscal hole.

“This leads to topic #3, Reporting. At this point, out of necessity, virtually every government economic statistic ranges from being “massaged” to outright false. GDP is particularly misleading. If we deducted government deficit spending and the multiplier effects it creates, the United States economy would immediately collapse. If that were to happen, we cannot credibly forecast a scenario that would restore it to growth. Economically, it would constitute an existential event.

“Obviously, we cannot openly admit the reality of the situation, or even let it become known. Therefore, the government must doctor the reports. Given the interrelationships among economic reports, we now have to lie about everything. If we just lied about certain metrics, say, GDP and employment, then the other metrics, if not similarly fabricated, would contradict the fabricated reports. We would be unable to explain the inconsistencies and contradictions. We have to lie about unemployment, GDP growth, retail sales, wages, money supply, the cost of Obamacare subsidies, current deficits, current debt, the true fiscal trajectory of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, government pension underfunding, projected deficits and debt, and all the rest. When it comes to false reporting, we’re in a box; there’s no alternative to it.

“This is one reason why the Alternative Media are so dangerous to us, and why we need to eliminate them. There are many talented analysts in that domain. They know the truth, and that we’re not telling it. The fact is that fake news comes from us, not them, as they are revealing to a growing army of citizens.

“In addition to false reporting, there is War. War is just like the Fed; it is never audited. This deliberate lack of oversight is how $6 trillion can go missing at the Army, alone. The Army’s missing funds are a small portion of the total amount that has disappeared into the military spending vortex. War spending is critical to topline GDP, and we can play a lot of non-detectible games with it. The saying, “War is the health of the state,” was coined for us. If we stopped fighting wars, GDP would crater. Wars are a necessary constant going forward, even if we have to invent them.

“This brings us to Perception, one of the most important factors of all. In reality, the economy and dollar have become a confidence game. We know that if confidence in an inherently dysfunctional system is lost, only a reset plus time can restore it. But as we discussed earlier, a reset is socially, politically and economically impossible. If the 200,000,000 U.S. citizens currently dependent upon the government to some degree were deprived of even a fraction of their payments, economic and social entropy would result. In fact, the people want more, not less. Free college; free or massively subsidized health care; a $15 minimum wage; the list goes on. Politicians have told them they can have these things, so there is a vast disconnect between popular expectations and fiscal reality.

“Stock market indices are one of the few tools we can use to create positive perceptions. We have successfully created a false perception of economic health by taking stocks to new highs. We have also deliberately engineered a “wealth effect,” which has artificially spurred spending and GDP, and boosted the so-called “animal spirits.” Doing these things has disguised reality and bought us a lot of time.

“But the real reasons we have manipulated stock markets higher go further. First, without a levitated stock market, the pension funds would collapse. Which would ripple through the economy in a massively destructive way.

“Second, federal, state and local governments need the capital gains-related tax revenue produced by the artificially propped-up stock markets. Dow 20,000 will produce a 2017 tax windfall, which is required to offset the damaged economy’s tax shortfalls. The stock markets are a crucial money machine when it comes to tax generation.

“Now to money creation, which takes us deep into the Dark Side. To fund the massive deficits and levitate the stock market, we have had to create trillions of new dollars. But if the actual amount were revealed, confidence in and the value of the dollar would collapse. So we have to lie about this, too. The Fed’s balance sheet is actually trillions more dollars than what is reported.

“We inject newly digitized currency into the system by crediting trusted, proven collaborators such as the BOE, BOJ and Bank of Israel with dollar amounts that can range into the trillions, depending upon circumstances. These collaborators use a portion of these credits to buy our stocks and bonds, in accordance with strict timing, allocation and dollar amount instructions. They funnel the remainder of the funds to trusted, third-party actors, including hedge funds, merchant banks and dark pool operators, providing them, too, with specific deployment instructions. Therefore, the buying comes from many different markets and locations, which makes it look normal and legitimate.

“What exists is a small club of trusted players who deploy enormous sums of money, all of it counterfeit and undocumented, to support the positive perception, healthy GDP and strong stock market agendas. This money costs our partners nothing; we create it for them, out of nothing. The fact is that management of the dollar is far more clandestine than any of the operations conducted by the CIA or NSA, and the Fed is the most secretive and sophisticated intelligence agency on earth. Geo-financial hegemony is its mission, and dollars are its spies, operating, misdirecting and deceiving from the shadows every minute of every day, all over the world.

“While a large and increasing number of citizens now demonstrate broad skepticism about government institutions, they still have blind faith in the statistics reported by the Fed. Which is upside down, because the Fed’s figures are the most dishonest of them all. It proves the power of propaganda, particularly when billions of dollars are spent on it. If the Fed were subject to audit, which of course it deliberately and necessarily is not, none of this would be possible. And if the true size, composition and deployment of the Fed’s balance sheet were known, the entire global financial system would implode.

“That is the situation, in a nutshell. As you can see, it is fragile and untenable. We can continue to manage it in the current context, but if the context were to change, even in small ways, it could all come down. We have to prevent that at any cost because if it does come down, even our most sophisticated computer simulations cannot posit a scenario by which it could be propped back up.

There is a subtle knock on the office door. Trump realizes he is out of time. He says to his guest, “I understand what you have said, and need you to come back and finish.” They arrange for the visitor to return in three days, December 2nd. Trump asks, “So we can move as fast as possible then, please give me a brief outline of what we will discuss.”

The visitor responds: “Most people do not think about these issues at all, but the sophisticated ones do. We have deliberately misdirected that cohort’s attention. We have distracted them with talk of bank bail-ins and other financial gossip to keep their thinking off of what is actually a much more profound and necessary outcome: government bail-ins. We have before us a complex, four dimensional puzzle, in which the puzzle pieces represent events wrapped in time. Both the controlling elite and the people are putting the puzzle pieces in place as fast as they can, because they know their futures depend on it. The side that first completes and comprehends the puzzle will win; the other side will lose. Two of the most important puzzle pieces are currency and precious metals, both swaddled in time. Which is running out for one side or the other.”

[To be continued in Part 2]

Stewart Dougherty is the creator of Inferential Analytics (IA), a forecasting method that applies to events proprietary, time-tested principles of human instinct, desire and action. In his view, forecasting methods not fundamentally based upon principles of human action are unlikely to be reliable over time. He is a graduate of Tufts University (BA) and Harvard Business School (MBA), is a 35+ year veteran of the business trenches and has developed IA over a period of 15+ years.

It’s A Retail Sales Train Wreck

The Census Bureau reported that its advance estimates of retail sales for November show a .1% gain from October and a 3.8% gain over November 2015. Wall St. was forecasting a .4% gain. Oops. But there’s a bigger problem with that headline report of a .1% increase in retail sales for November:   it’s based on guesstimates by the Census Bureau for the largest retails sales categories.

If you go through the data tables that accompany the headline retails sales report – LINK – you’ll see asterisks in the “not adjusted” data for November in most of the business categories. In a footnote the CB discloses that, “Advance estimates are not available for this kind of business.”  Most people who see the headline news reports, or hear the news “soundbytes” on tv, do not realize that the retail  sales number is an “estimate.”

On an inflation-adjusted basis, the .1% “gain” reported for November is a decline.  Most are not aware of that fact as well.  Also, the .8% gain reported for October was revised down to a .6% gain.  It is highly probable that November’s number will be revised to negative when December’s retail sales report hits in January.  But the revision for November is typically not reported at all.

According to a research piece published by Cowen & Co. on December 14th, mall traffic fell 6.4% in November from October and December month-to-date traffic was down 9.9%. Granted, there’s no question that some portion of that mall traffic has shifted to buying online for its holiday purchases. However, even with the growth in online retail sales, e-commerce accounts for less than 10% of total retail sales (the Census Bureau estimated e-commerce represented 7.7% of total sales in Q3 2016.

I have no doubt that the Government’s Census Bureau is going to put forth its best effort to manipulate the sales data it collects in order to present a positive light on December and holiday sales this year. However, the actual reports coming from the retailers themselves reflects a retail environment in which the stores are fiercely competing for a “shrinking pie” of consumer disposable income.

Restoration Hardware stock did an 18% cliff-dive two weeks ago when it reported its Q3 earnings.   Over the last six trading days, the XRT retail ETF is down 4.2%.  It was down every day last week despite the SPX and Dow hitting new all-time highs.

In the latest Short Seller’s Journal released Sunday evening, I dive into the retail sales numbers in-depth and present a lot more information which should satisfy proof of concept that this year’s holiday retails sales will be a complete disaster.  Note:  I have no doubt the Census Bureau and industry promotion organizations will manipulate the data for the holiday season in order to report positive sales results.  But the reality check will come from the companies themselves, which have a harder time faking the numbers.

I present several retail-related short ideas in the latest SSJ, including options trading suggestions.  On of the ideas is already down 1.3% today.  You can access these ideas plus in-depth data and analysis using this link:  Short Seller’s Journal.   SSJ is a monthly subscription.  New issues are published weekly and there’s no minimum time commitment.

Trump Is Already Betraying His Voters

Posted from St. Martin (the French side, of course!).  I kind of expected this to happen, as close friends and colleagues can attest.  Trump is not only NOT going “drain the swamp,” he’s populating it with a different breed of swamp monster.   His choice for AG is a red-neck, right-wing senator from Alabama who, 80 years ago, would have been a member of the inner circle of the Third Reich.  Ditto for the names that have been floated for Secretary of State.  As for Treasury Secretary, the names floated for the position bear the unmistakable mark of the Wall Street beast:  $6$6$6.  They are every bit as vile,  if not worse, than the thieves that moved through there the last 12 years.  Jamie Dimon?  Steve Mnuchin?  Give me an F-ing break.

It is what it is.  Out with the old, in with new old.   James Kunstler penned another epic post that deserves a thorough perusal:

For all practical purposes, both traditional parties have blown themselves up. The Democratic Party morphed from the party of thinking people to the party of the thought police, and for that alone they deserve to be flushed down the soil pipe of history where the feckless Whigs went before them. The Republicans have floundered in their own Special Olympics of the Mind for decades, too, so it’s understandable that they have fallen hostage to such a rank outsider as Trump, so cavalier with the party’s dumb-ass shibboleths. It remains to be seen whether the party becomes a vengeful, hybrid monster with an orange head, or a bridge back to reality. I give the latter outcome a low percentage chance.

For the rest of this, click here:  Boo Hoo – America Didn’t Get What It Expected

The stock market continued a stunning move higher last week despite evidence of
widespread financial market turmoil signaled by the bond and currency markets globally.
With evidence mounting everyday that the U.S. economy continues to deteriorate, the
behavior of the U.S. stock market can only be explained as being a product of the enormous pool of liquidity created by the Fed – printed money plus rampant credit availability – that piled into any and all stocks moving higher. This will ultimately turn into a momentum move in the other direction that will inflict serious damage on the system.   – Excerpt from the latest Short Seller’s Journal