Tag Archives: FOMC

A Massive Bubble In Retail Stocks

Retail, especially the “concept” retailers, are going parabolic. It makes no sense given the declining rate of personal consumption, retail sales, etc. The kinkiest names like RH, RL and W are going up like the dot.com stocks went up in late 1999/early 2000. The move in these stocks reflects either mindless optimism or momentum-rampaging by hedge fund bots – or both. The hedge fund trading flow can turn on a dime and go the other way. I suspect this will happen and, as it does, squeeze even more mindless optimism out of the market.

The cost of gasoline has to be hammering disposable income for most households. On top of this is the rising cost of monthly debt service for the average household.  Non-essential consumerism is dying on a vine.

Fundamentally the retail sector is not recovering. If anything, the economic variables which support retail sales are deteriorating. I think some of the shares caught a bid on better than expected earnings derived from the one-time bump in GAAP non-cash income from the tax law changes reported by numerous companies in Q1. I just don’t see how it’s possible, given the negative wage, consumption, credit and retail sales reports that the sector has “recovered.”

In just the last eight trading days, XRT has outperformed both the Dow and S&P 500 by a significant margin. It has all indications of a blow-off top in process. You can see that, with industry fundamentals deteriorating, XRT’s current level now exceeds the top it hit at the end of January, which is when the stock market drop began. The RSI has run back into “overbought” status.

Some of the “kinkiest” retail concept stocks, like Lululemon (LULU), Five Below (FIVE) and Restoration Hardware (RH), soared after reporting the customary, well-orchestrated GAAP/non-GAAP earnings “beat.”  Of course, RH’s revenues declined year over year for the quarter it just reported.  But it used debt plus cash generated from reducing inventories to buyback $1 billion worth of shares in the last 12 months.  Yes, of course, insiders greedily sold shares into the buybacks. (Note: If insiders were working for shareholders other than themselves, companies would pay large, one-time special dividends to ALL shareholders rather than buyback shares to goose the stock price)

The retail stocks are setting up a great opportunity for bears like me to make a lot of money shorting the most egregiously overvalued shares in the sector.  Timing is always an issue.  But complacency has enveloped the stock market once again, as hedge funds have settled back to aggressively shorting volatility.

It won’t take much to tip the market over again.  Only this time around I expect the low-close of February 8th (2,581 on the SPX) to be exceeded to the downside by a considerable margin.

The above commentary was partially excerpted from the the latest issue of the Short Seller’s Journal.  It’s not easy shorting the market right now – for now – but there have been plenty of short-term opportunities to “scalp” stocks using short term puts. I cover both short term trading ideas and long term positioning ideas.  You can learn more  about this newsletter here:  Short Seller’s Journal information.

 

Does Larry Kudlow Fear Gold?

One of the first comments about the economy from Larry Kudlow after his appointment as Trump’s chief “economic” advisor was to advise anyone listening to “sell gold.”   But why?  Gold is irrelevant in the United States.  Very few Americans care about silver and even less care about gold.  So why bring attention headline attention to gold?

The simple, if not obvious, answer is that gold is the number one threat to the U.S. dollar. It’s the antithesis of gold.  For a born again Catholic like Kudlow, gold is the anti-Christ.

Silver Doctors invited me onto its weekly Metals and Market Wrap show to discuss the February employment report, the appointment of Larry Kudlow and, of  course, gold and silver:

Use these links if you are interested in learning more about IRD’s   Short Seller’s Journal or Mining Stock Journal.   Many of my short sell and junior mining stock ideas have been successful despite the lofty stock market and sideways trending precious metals market. I review both short and longer term trading/investment ideas in each issue.

The supply of gold, unlike paper money, is limited. Alchemists have tried for centuries to turn other metals into gold — but have never succeeded. Gold is a beautiful metal on its own and the lust for gold seems to be built into the DNA of mankind. If you own ten thousand ounces of gold, you can say that you will ALWAYS be wealthy. – Richard Russell

More Evidence That The Fed And Big Banks Collude?

Should this surprise anyone?

An interesting study by a Phd candidate at the University of Chicago is being released which shows a statistically high incidence in taxi trips between the NY Fed and big NY banks clustered around FOMC meetings:

Mr. Finer writes that “highly statistically significant patterns in New York City yellow taxi rides suggest that opportunities for information flow between individuals present at the New York Fed and individuals present at major commercial banks increase around” meetings of the interest-rate setting FOMC.

“Their geography, timing and passenger counts are consistent with an increase in planned meetings causally linked to the incidence of monetary-policy activities,” he wrote. “I find highly statistically significant evidence of increases in meetings at the New York Fed late at night and in off-site meetings during typical lunch hours,” which is suggestive of “informal or discreet communication.”

“As reported by the Wall St. Journal, but curiously absent from Fox Business reporting – both organizations are owned by Rupert Murdoch – Mr. Finer used government-provided GPS coordinates, vehicle information and other travel data to track taxi traffic between the addresses of the New York Fed and major banks. His research pointed to increased traffic between the destinations around lunch and late evening hours, which suggested informal meetings were taking place, Mr. Finer wrote in his paper. He found elevated numbers of rides around Federal Open Market Committee meetings, with most of them coming after the gathering.” (WSJ)

This should not surprise anyone. It actually makes sense. The Fed is owned by the Too Big Too Fail banks and, without question, have an inordinate amount of influence on Fed policy.

You can read the entire article here: Increase in Fed/NY Bank Meetings Around FOMC Meetings.

 

Powell Is Not An Economist – And The Fed Is Not Tightening Monetary Policy

Fed Head, Jerome Powell, is not an economist. He’s a politician who made a lot of money at the Carlyle Group. He has an undergraduate degree in politics and went to law school. After working for awhile as a lawyer at a big Wall St. firm, Powell migrated to investment banking at Dillon Read. Powell must have built a relationship with Nicholas Brady at Dillon Read, because he jumped from Dillon Read to positions in Brady’s Treasury Department under George H. Bush. From there he took an ill-fated position at Bankers Trust and was somehow connected to the big derivatives scandal that eventually forced BT into the arms of Deutsche Bank. Information about Powell’s role at BT have been cleansed from the internet but he resigned from BT after Proctor & Gamble filed a lawsuit that exposed a large derivatives scandal.

The point of this is that it would be a mistake to analyze anything Powell says in his role as Fed Head as anything other than the regurgitation of previous oral flatulence emitted by Bernanke and Yellen. First and foremost, Powell’s agenda will be to protect the value of private equity investments at firms like the Carlyle Group. In this regard, Powell’s wealth preservation interests should have precluded him from assuming the role of Fed Head. Then again, he’s not an economist. The last Fed Head who was not a trained economist was G. William Miller, appointed by Jimmy Carter in 1978. How well did that work out?

While many “analysts” have looked to statements made by Powell in 2012 that expressed a somewhat “hawkish” stance on monetary policy, it’s more important to watch what the Fed does, not says. Since the balance sheet reduction process was supposed to begin starting in October, the Fed’s balance sheet has been reduced from $4.469 trillion as October 16, 2017 to $4.458 trillion as of February 21. “Qualitative tightening” of just $11 billion. This is well behind the alleged $10 billion per month pace that was established and highly promoted by the Fed, analysts and the financial media.

Powell stated to today that the Fed will continue with “gradual rate hikes.” What does this mean? Over the last two years and two months, the Fed has implemented five quarter-point rate “nudges.” Less than one-half of one percent per year. Since 1954, the Fed Funds rate has averaged around 6%. This would be a “normalized” Fed Funds rate. Based on the current rate of Fed Funds rate “hikes,” it would take six years from December 2015, when the “rate nudges” commenced, to achieve interest rate “normalization.”

But here’s why it will like take a lot longer and may never happen:

The chart above shows the dollar amount of consumer debt that is in delinquency. It was $33.3 billion as of the end of Q3 2017. It is at the same level as it was in Q2 2008. The data is lagged. I have no doubt that is likely now closer to $36 billion, which is where it was in Q3 2008. If anything, we will eventually see “faster-than-gradual” drops in the Fed Funds rate.

With Government, corporate and household debt at all time highs, and with delinquency rates and defaults escalating quickly – especially in auto and credit card debt – the only reason the Fed would continue along the path of tightening monetary policy as laid out – but not remotely adhered to – over two years ago, is if for some reason it wanted blow-up the financial system. Au contraire, hiking rates and shrinking the Fed’s balance sheet is not in the best interests of the Too Big To Fail Banks or the net worth of Jerome Powell.

How Long Can Fed Keep The Stock Market Propped Up?

Is the Stock Market Rigged?

Paul Craig Roberts, Dave Kranzler, and Michael Hudson

On February 6 PCR asked if the Plunge Protection Team had stepped in and prevented a stock market correction by purchasing equity index futures. https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2018/02/06/another-arrested-equity-correction-paul-craig-roberts/ Sure enough, the daily exchange volume chart shows an increase in futures activity on February 2 with sharp increases on Feb. 5th and 6th. Those are the days when the stock market averages were experiencing large point drops. So, ask yourself, would you purchase equity futures while experiencing cumultive stock market drops? One can understand shorting a dropping market, but not buying futures.

Unless this is what happened. Seeing the beginning of a correction, the Plunge Protection Team placed a futures bid just below the existing price. Traders saw the bid, recognized that the government was intervening to support the market, and the bid was front-run with the hedge fund algorithms automatically picking up the action.

Who but the Federal Reserve with its unlimited ability to create money would take the risk of buying futures in the face of a falling market. Moreover, such an infusion of money into the market does not show up in the money supply figures.

The futures purchases prevented margin calls and stop/loss orders in a heavily leveraged equity market that would have collapsed the market.

What are the pros and cons of this kind of intervention (which might have occurred also in May 2010 and August 2015)? By stopping a correction, the intervention prevented a pension fund collapse, both private and state. However, by propping up over-valued equities that the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing created, the intervention rewarded over-leveraged speculative risk-taking and prevented price discovery. We still have an equity market whose values rest on record margin debt, stock buy-backs, and prices pumped up by money-printing. The problems waiting to come home continue to build.

The question is: can intervention prop-up over-valued, problem-ridden markets forever?

After today’s drop, we will see what happens tomorrow.

The Big Money Grab Is “On” As Middle America Collapses

The stock market rejoices the House passage of the tax “reform” Bill as the Dow shot up 187 points and the S&P 500 spiked up 21. The Nasdaq soared 1.3%, retracing its 3-day decline in one day. The tax bill is nothing more than a massive redirect of money flow from the Treasury Department to Corporate America and billionaires. The middle class will not receive any tax relief from the Bill but it will shoulder the burden of the several trillion dollars extra in Treasury debt that will be required to finance the tax cuts for the wealthy. The tax “reform” will have, at best, no effect on GDP.   It will likely be detrimental to real economic output.

The Big Money Grab is “on” at the highest levels of of Wall St., DC, Corporate America, the Judiciary and State/local Govt. These people are grabbing from a dying carcass as fast and greedily as possible.  The elitists are operating free from any fear of the Rule of Law.  That particular nuisance does not apply to “them” – only to “us.” They don’t even try to hide their grand scale theft anymore because the protocol in place to prevent them from doing this is now on their side. This is the section in Atlas Shrugged leading up to the big implosion.

“When you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors–when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you–when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice–you may know that your society is doomed.” – Atlas Shrugged

Speaking of the economy, as with inflation the GDP report does not reflect the true level of real economic activity in the U.S. because the Government report is not designed to measure real economic output. Instead, the GDP is yet another Government economic report constructed with blatant statistical manipulation and outright fraudulent data sampling. How am I so certain of this? The “tell” on the true condition of the economy lies with the fact that Fed is “normalizing” neither interest rates nor its balance sheet. In fact, if the Fed were to “normalize” monetary policy, it would quickly hike the Fed funds rate up closer to 6% and it would be reducing its balance sheet and removing at least the $2.1 trillion in printed cash sitting in the banks’ excess reserve account.  The problem is that this “normalization” would pop the enormous asset bubble created from money printing.  It would also interrupt the ongoing wealth confiscation.

Elijah Johnson at Silver Doctors invited to discuss the above issues as well as the stock, bond and housing bubbles. And of course gold and mining stocks:

I’ll be releasing the latest issue of my Mining Stock Journal this evening. It will have an emerging junior gold exploration company that has been described at “Gold Standard Ventures 2.0.” You can find out more information here:   Mining Stock Journal info.

Former FOMC Member Admits The Fed Manipulates Asset Prices

The Fed often treats financial markets as a beast to be tamed, a cub to be coddled, or a market to be manipulated. It appears in thrall to financial markets, and financial markets are in thrall to the Fed, but only one will get the last word. – Former FOMC member, Kevin Warsh – The Fed Needs New Thinking

Please note, a large portion of the source links, plus the idea for this commentary, were sourced from GATA’s latest dispatch regarding the possible appointment of Warsh as the next Fed Chairman.

The quote above is from former FOMC board member,  Kevin Warsh, who appears to be Trump’s top candidate to assume the Fed’s mantle of manipulation from Janet Yellen.   By way of relevant reference, Warsh happens to be the son-in-law of Ronald Lauder,  who is a good friend of Trump’s.  He is also a former Steering Committee member of the Bilderberg Group.    GATA has published a summary reprise of direct evidence from previous written admissions by Warsh the the Fed actively manages financial asset prices, “including bolstering the share price of public companies” (from link above).

In addition to stocks, Warsh admitted in the same essay that, “The Fed seeks to fix interest rates and control foreign-exchange rates simultaneously” (same link above). This task is impossible without suppressing the price of gold, something which began in earnest in 1974 when, under the direction of then Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, paper gold futures contracts were introduced to the U.S. capital markets. This memo, written by the Deputy assistant Secretary of State for International Finance and Development, was sent to Kissinger and Paul Volcker in March 1974: Gold and the Monetary System:  Potential U.S.-EC Conflict (note:  the source-link is from GATA – it was discovered in the State Department archives by Goldmoney’s John Butler).

The nature of discussions after that memo, the minutes of which are now publicly available, center around the fact that several European Governments were interested in re-introducing gold into the global monetary system.  This movement was in direct conflict with the interests of U.S. elitists and banking aristocrats, as U.S. had successfully established  the petro-dollar as the reserve currency.

In 2009 GATA sent a Freedom Of Information Act request to the Fed in an attempt to get access to documents involving the Fed’s use of gold swaps (this letter written by Warsh confirms the existence of the use of gold swaps).  Warsh, who was the FOMC’s “liaison” between the Fed and Wall Street, wrote a letter back to GATA denying the request.

The fact that Warsh has openly acknowledged that the Fed manipulates assets, including an implicit admission that the Fed seeks to suppress the price of gold,  might give some in the gold community some hope that Warsh, if appointed to the Chair of the Fed, might reign in the Fed’s over interference in the financial markets.

On the contrary, I believe this makes him a bigger threat to democracy, capitalism and freedom than any of his recent predecessors.  Warsh is better “pedigree’d” and politically connected than either Bernanke or Yellen.  His high level involvement in the Bilderberg Group ties him directly to the individual aristocrats who are considered to be the most financially and politically powerful in the western world.    Without a doubt he has far more profound understanding of the significance of gold as a monetary asset than any modern Federal Reserve FOMC member except, perhaps, Alan Greenspan.

The good news for the gold investing community is that it becomes increasingly evident that China, together with Russia and several other eastern bloc countries, is working to remove the dollar as the reserve currency and reintroduce gold into the global monetary system.  A contact and subscriber to my Mining Stock Journal who happens to live and work in Shanghai has sent further evidence  (and here) that China is working toward launching a gold-backed yuan oil futures contract.

This will be a complete game-changer.  It’s also likely why the western Central Banks have doubled their efforts to keep the price of suppressed over the last 6  weeks.   My contact believes there’s a possibility that the contract will be rolled out after Xi is “re-elected” toward the end of October (the Party Congress convenes after the week-long National Holiday observance).

My personal view is that China will work more gradually to roll out a futures contract that effectively “disconnects” the petro-dollar and the dollar’s reserve status in order to minimize the adverse, albeit temporary, consequences of this.  The first iteration could be a simple yuan-denominated contract to get the system working.  The foremost consequence of this, of course, will be the massive transfer of wealth and power from the United States and its European vassal countries to the emerging global power in the eastern hemisphere.

Paper Gold And Silver – A Tragic Reflection Of The U.S. Financial System

Dave, just a moment for some feed back on your Short Seller’s Journal. I just placed an order for 1oz gold eagles thx to my profits off Tesla and BBBY, thx as always. – subscriber email received today – Short Seller’s Journal information

Wow.  The hedge funds are almost net short silver contracts again, having had their algos steered into that predicament by the bullion bank market manipulation.  The fraudulent paper short position in both gold and silver – but especially silver – is many multiples larger than the available supply of physical metal that is supposed to legally back commodity derivatives.  This is evident from the Comex disclosures.

We have no idea what the total net short position would be including LBMA forward contracts and OTC derivatives.  That the entities who are paid by the public to prevent this continue to allow and enable this massive fraud is a tragic  commentary on the current U.S. economic, financial and political systems.

Craig “Turd Ferguson” Hemke invited me onto his weekly subscriber podcast show to discuss the trading action in gold and silver, the catastrophe otherwise known as the Federal Reserve and the slow-motion train wreck occurring in the stock market:

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE MINING STOCK JOURNAL OR SHORT SELLER’S JOURNAL – CLICK IN IMAGE: