Tag Archives: stock bubble

Bitcoin, Propaganda, Fake News And Unmitigated Idiocy

I want to show two quotes from commentators in related areas of financial analysis because they illustrate the difference between truthful commentary and unmitigated idiocy.

Yesterday, James “Mc” wrote in Bill Murphy’s nightly “Midas” report:

“The sexiness of Bitcoin, Tesla, Netflix, and hundreds of other techie things will become FAR less sexy in a good old fashion economic crash. Reality will quickly set in, and real stuff, made by real people will prevail. As history has shown everything else becomes superfluous. Millennials, or even Gen-Xer’s for that matter have never experienced truly hard times. Many will be shocked to learn when TSHTF a plumber is far more marketable than an IT guy. Bartering with Bitcoin might prove problematic.”

I doubt there’s anything with that statement with which anyone could dispute. Murphy prior to that made the valid points that Central Banks and sovereign nations will never incorporate Bitcoin into their currency reserves like they do with gold. The point being that, while Bitcoin is accepted as a form of currency by its users, it is not considered a wealth storage asset.

It would be tough to classify James’ comment as propaganda or fake news. Gold is the world’s second oldest form of money (silver is the oldest). Bitcoin may or may not become a passing fad but it certainly has not stood the test of time. Its use can be eliminated by shutting down the global power grid.

Here’s an example of propaganda, fake news and unmitigated idiocy from Citicorp’s “respected” strategist, Tom Fitzpatrick:

“…markets ultimately will be driven by the economic backdrop rather than by headlines. US labor and housing markets remain robust and should continue to drive growth. European growth is picking up. China remains stable in our view despite recent volatility.” LINK

China remains “stable?” I doubt anyone would disagree that China has fomented the second biggest debt and asset bubble in the world, with the U.S. bubble the largest, and its financial system rests on the precipice of systemic collapse resting on a pyramid of debt and derivatives that requires a flood of printed money and credit creation in order to defer the inevitable financial and economic implosion. That’s the truth, in contrast to Fitzpatrick’s moronic assertion.

As for the remark that the U.S. labor market is “robust.” My guess is that a majority of the 95 million working age people (37% of the working age population) in the U.S. who are no longer considered part of the “labor force” would have a different set of adjectives to describe the labor market here (they would also have a set of adjectives to describe Fitzpatrick that would make some blush).

A “robust” housing market? Total home sales are running two-thirds of the long run average and about 50% the last peak in sales. This is despite a steady long term growth in the population. Furthermore, in order to for a home to sell, in general buyers have to resort to using a 0-3% down payment mortgage and use at least 50% of their monthly income to service the mortgage. An oversupply of housing in New York City and Miami is beginning to crush those two housing markets, a dynamic that will soon spread to most major metro areas across the country. Flippers and “investors” were about 35% of all home sales in 2016.

These are unequivocally NOT the attributes of a “robust” housing market, not to mention the fact that the even the monthly manipulated home sales data series published by the Government and the National Association of Realtors have been trending lower this year. Tom Fitzpatrick’s remarks embody the attributes of Wall Street propaganda,  outright fake news and total unmitigated idiocy.  I hope you get rich selling lies and feel good about it, Tom.

There’s been a lot of debate over the meaning and significance of the parabolic move in Bitcoin.  Allhambra Investments’ Jeffrey Snider has come the closest to the truth by equating the Bitcoin move as the manifestation of Gresham’s law.

While this encapsulates the Bitcoin frenzy, beneath the surface represented by Bitcoin is an even bigger movement  of bad money (fiat currencies) piling into physical gold that is occurring in the eastern hemisphere, specifically in India and China.  The evidence of this movement in the form of a higher price expressed in dollars is being hidden by the continuous intervention in the western gold market implemented by the western Central Banks using paper gold derivatives.

The point of this is that the price of Bitcoin is behaving the way price of gold would be behaving in the absence of manipulation.   The rush into both is a rejection by the market of  the continuous devaluation of fiat currencies that is occurring from the trillions of paper currencies that have been created since 2008.

At some point, and there’s not anyone who can predict when, Tom Fitzpatrick’s fake news and unmitigated idiocy will be exposed for what it is as global financial markets and economies crash and money that is pulled out of bubble assets floods into the safety of physical gold and silver.   At that point the Central Bank effort to suppress the price of gold and silver will fail.

It’s been occurring slowly since 1971 (and really since 1913) and will at some point happen all at once.  Have a great Memorial Day weekend and try to enjoy what you can, as much you can, while you still can.

The Foundation Of The Stock Market Is Crumbling

The S&P 500 and Dow have gone nowhere since March 1st. The SPX had been bumping its head on 2400 until Wednesday. The Dow and the SPX have been levitating on the backs of five tech stocks: AAPL, AMZN, FB, GOOG and MSFT. AAPL alone is responsible for 25% of the Dow’s YTD gain and 13% of the SPX’s.  Connected to this, the tech sector in general has bubbled up like Dutch Tulips in the mid-1630’s. The Nasdaq hit an all-time high (6,169) on Tuesday.

But, as this next chart shows, despite a handful of stocks trying to rain on the bears’ parade, there’s plenty of stocks that have been selling off:

The chart above shows the S&P 500 vs the SOX (semiconductor index), XRT (retail index), IBM and Ford since the election. The SOX index was used to represent the tech sector. You can see that, similar to the culmination of the 1999-early 2000 stock bubble, the tech stocks are bubbling up like a geyser. IBM is a tech company but its operations are diversified enough to reflect the general business activity occurring across corporate America and in the overall economy. The retail sector has been getting hit hard, reflecting the general decay in financials of the average middle class household. And Ford’s stock reflects the general deterioration in U.S. manufacturing and profitability. Anyone who believes that the unemployment rate is truly 4.4% and that the economy is doing well needs to explain the relative stock performance of the retail sector, IBM and F.

Despite the levitation of the SPX and Dow, the “hope helium” that has inflated the stock bubble since the election has been leaking out since January 1st. While many stocks in NYSE are either below their 200 dma or testing 52 week lows, the price action of the U.S. dollar index best reflects the inflation and deflation of the Trump “hope bubble:”

I’ve always looked at the U.S. dollar as a “stock” that represents the U.S. political, financial and economic system. As you can see, U.S.A.’s stock went parabolic after the election until December 31st. Since that time, it’s deflated back down to below its trading level on election day. This has also been the fate of the average stock that trades on the NYSE. In fact, as of Friday’s close, 55% of the stocks on NYSE are below their 200 day moving average. Nearly 62% of all NYSE stocks are below their 50 dma. Just 4.37% of S&P 500 stocks are at 52-wk highs despite the fact that the SPX hit a new all-time high of 2402 on Tuesday. These statistics give you an idea of how narrow the move higher in the stock market has been, as the average stock in the NYSE/SPX/Dow indices is diverging negatively from the respective indices. The foundation of the stock market is crumbling.

The above analysis was a portion of the latest Short Seller’s Journal released last night. SSJ recommended shorting IBM in the April 23rd issue at $160.  It’s down 4.6% since then. The primary short idea presented in the latest issue was down 2.3% today despite the .5% rise in the SPX.  This idea is a stock trading in the mid-teens that will likely be under $5 within a year.  You can find out more about the Short Seller’s Journal here:  LINK

Stocks Down Because Of Trump? Plus Target’s Earnings Trick

The by-line on Fox Business this a.m. was that stocks were down because of “DC grid-lock.” Is this some kind of joke? How about stocks are down because they are more overvalued than at anytime in history by every single financial metric except the highly manipulated GAAP accounting net income calculations.

Speaking of which, the entire financial reporting apparatus has become one of the biggest jokes – if not an outright fraud – in financial markets history (with all due respect to the Ponzi scheme’s currently in operation at Amazon and Tesla). Target’s earnings report this morning is the perfect example.

Target’s stock “pop” was being attributed by the cable tv financial “reporters” to the fact Target’s sales and earnings per share “beat” Wall Street estimates. That’s not hard to do because the highly exalted “beat” is a rigged game played by company management and Wall Street, as management slowly “guides” Wall Street’s penguins into a series of reduced “estimates” leading up to the earnings release. By the time the results are reported, the earnings bar is low enough for a paraplegic to “jump” over.

The financial tv sock-puppets were reporting that Target’s sales had increased. Well, maybe vs. “guidance” but unfortunately none of these faux-reporters bothered to look at Target’s actual earnings report. There we find that Target’s sales declined year over year by 1.1%.  Gross profit dropped 2.5%, which means Target likely engaged in predatory price-cutting to stimulate its online sales vs. Amazon.

Targets earnings before interest and taxes – its EBIT – plunged 10.2%.   Provision for taxes increased quarter over quarter by $74 million, or 26%.  So how did Target “beat” earnings?

Target’s “interest expense” using GAAP accounting manipulation declined by $271 million, or 65%.   This is despite the fact that TGT’s debt level increased by $55 million year over year for Q1. What gives?  Anyone who bothered to read TGT’s earnings release after seeing the headline report, likely nobody except me, would find this disclosure:

The Company’s first quarter 2017 net interest expense was $144 million, compared with $415 million last year. This decrease was driven almost entirely by a $261 million charge related to the early retirement of debt in first quarter 2016.

Target refinanced debt in Q1 2016 and paid a premium to the par (book) value of the debt. This was added in to Target’s interest expense in Q1 2016. It was a one-time charge that could have just as easily been stripped away and disclosed as a “non-recurring loss” in order to keep the income statements comparable for comparison purposes. Adding the $261 million non-operating GAAP charge back into the Q1 2016 EBIT boosts TGT’s earnings before taxes that quarter to $1.158 billion. In Q1 2017 TGT’s earnings before taxes was $1.034 billion. As you can see, TGT’s “apples to apples” earnings before taxes declined by $124 million. From there Targets net income and earnings per share on the true “adjusted-GAAP” basis would show a decline, not a gain.

This type of earnings gamesmanship that goes on between corporate America, Wall Street and the zombified sock-puppet financial “reporters” is endemic to the giant U.S. Ponzi Scheme.  Using earnings “sleight of hand” and allowable GAAP accounting earnings management gimmicks, Target was able to transform deteriorating revenues and economic profitability into something that is being touted in the fast-food financial reporting machinery as “an earnings POP.”   Bad news was converted into good news and Target’s stock jumped 4.4% at the open today despite a 1.1% drop in the S&P 500.

This is the type of financial analysis that you will find in the Short Seller’s Journal and it’s why subscribers were able ride Sears (SHLD) from $11.92 to $7.89 in 5 weeks and KATE from $23.67 to $17 in 8 weeks.  You can find out more about this unique subscription service here:   Short Seller’s Journal.

You can’t throw darts at the market and win every time just yet. At some point everything will no doubt head south, but for now its great having your analysis to pick the ones with best chance. In all honesty mate, the recommendation I am most looking forward to in the SSJ and the MSJ is what bar we all meet at in a couple of years time for some celebratory brewskis. – subscriber “James” from the UK

An Impending Economic And Financial Disaster


You’ve probably heard/read a lot lately about the VIX index. The VIX index is a measure of the implied volatility of S&P 500 index options. The VIX is popularly known as a market “fear” index. The concept underlying the VIX is that it measures the theoretical expected annualized change in the S&P 500 over the next year. It’s measured in percentage terms. A VIX reading of 10 would imply an expectation that the S&P 500 could move up or down 10% or less over the next year with a 68% degree of probability. The calculation for the VIX is complicated but it basically “extracts” the implied volatility from all out of the money current-month and next month put and call options on the SPX.

The graph above plots the S&P 500 (candles) vs. the VIX (blue line) on a monthly basis going back to 2001. As you can see, the last time the VIX trended sideways around the 11 level was from 2005 to early 2007. On Monday (May 8) the VIX traded below 10. The last time it closed below 10 was February 2007. The VIX often functions as a contrarian indicator. As for the predictive value of a low VIX reading, there is a high correlation between an extremely low VIX level and large market declines. However, the VIX does not give us any information about the timing of a big sell-off other than indicate that one will likely (not definitely) occur.

In my opinion, an extremely low VIX level, like the current one, is signaling an eventual sell-off that I believe will be quite extreme.

The true fundamentals underlying the U.S. economy – as opposed the “fake news” propaganda that emanates from uncovered manholes at the Fed, Wall Street and Capitol Hill – are beginning to slide rapidly.   The primary reason for this is that the illusion of wealth creation was facilitated by the inflation of a massive systemic debt and derivatives bubble.  Government and corporate debt is at all-time highs.  The rate of debt issuance by these two entities accelerated in 2010.  Household debt not including mortgages is at an all-time high.  Total household debt including mortgages was near an all-time high as of the latest quarter (Q4 2016) for which the all-inclusive data is available.  I would be shocked if total household was not at an all-time high as I write this.

The fall-out from this record level of U.S. systemic debt is beginning to hit and it will accelerate in 2017.  In 2016 corporate bankruptcies were up 25% from from 2015.   So far in 2017, 10 big retailers have filed for bankruptcy, with a couple of them completely shutting down and liquidating.    Currently there’s at least 9 more large retailers expected to file this year.   In addition to big corporate bankruptcies, the State of Connecticut is said to be preparing a bankruptcy filing.

The household debt statistics show a consumer that is buried in debt and will likely begin to default on this debt – credit card, auto, personal, student loan and mortgage – at an accelerated rate this year.  The delinquency and charge-off statistics from credit card and auto finance companies are already confirming this supposition.

In the latest issue of the Short Seller’s Journal, I review the VIX and the deteriorating consumer debt statistics in detail and explain why the brewing financial crisis will be much worse than the one that hit in 2008.  I also present a finance company stock and a housing-related stock as ways to take advantage of the crumbling consumer.   You can find out more about subscribing to the Short Seller’s Journal here:  Subscription information.   There’s no monthly minimum require and subscribers have an opportunity to subscribe to my Mining Stock Journal for half-price.

I look forward to any and every SSJ. Especially at the moment as I really do think your work and thesis on how this plays out is being more than validated at the moment with the ongoing dismal data coming out, both here in the U.K. and in the U.S.  – U.K. subscriber, James

 

Is The U.S Ponzi Scheme About To End?

“How did you go bankrupt?” “Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”
– Ernest Hemingway, “The Sun Also Rises”

I was chatting with a friend two days ago who was agitated by the insanity of the markets. Look at TSLA, for instance.   This thing loses $13,000 for every car sold.  Soon the tax credits – i.e. the taxpayer subsidies – will expire and TSLA will lose even more per car because it will have to lower the price to entice buyers.   Its balance sheet is a ticking time bomb in the form of residual value guarantees issued by TSLA used to induce buyers into paying up for a car that has depreciated in value considerably more than the value of the guarantee. Those poor saps don’t realize it yet, but they will be unsecured creditors to a bankrupt corpse of a company.  And yet, the market has pushed the market cap above the market caps of GM and Ford.

To say this is absurd is an insult to the word “absurd.”  I’m still trying to decide whether TSLA or AMZN is the biggest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history.  I have not had a chance to dissect TSLA’s financials and operations to the extent that I have done so with AMZN.  With AMZN the market doesn’t seem to care that, on a net income basis, in its latest quarter AMZN’s product sales business (it’s non-cloud, or AWS, business) lost money (that’s right, if you subract the operating income of AWS from total net income,  AMZN lost money – AMZN manufactures net income for its non-AWS business via GAAP gimmicks) .  But why focus on the facts?  The operating income of its AWS cloud business dropped 29%.   Once GOOG, MSFT and ORCL have fully implemented their attack on AMZN’s cloud market share, AWS will become irrelevant.   I would bet every single entity that bought AMZN stock since it released its Q1 earnings does not know these facts.  AMZN, pure and simple, is a Ponzi scheme.

Amusingly, there’s a contest on CNBC over whether AMZN or GOOG hits $1000 first.  This is the surest signal that the end of this fiat currency-driven credit and stock bubble globally is about to collapse.

Given the inability to manipulate its market via paper derivative instruments and short selling, this is the message that Bitcoin is signaling:

In the absence of the ability to manipulate the market, this is the same message that gold and silver would be sending to the world, only the scramble for gold and silver bullion in any form would be more frenzied and it would be widespread. There actually is a somewhat frenzied scramble for gold and silver in eastern hemisphere markets based on the premiums to melt being paid for refined products in places like India, China, Turkey and Viet Nam.

At some point the western Central Banks will lose the ability to manipulate the gold and silver price and the Comex will default.  That’s when chaos will break out in the physical gold and silver markets.  That may be what it will take to trigger the collapse of the U.S. Ponzi scheme.   Apparently JP Morgan understands this inevitability.  Prior to 2011, JPM did not operate a Comex vault.  It had zero Comex silver.   Currently JPM is holding nearly 108 million ozs of silver, or 54% of the total silver reportedly held in Comex silver vaults.   This tells us, or at least me, that smart insider money is loading up on precious metals – not Bitcoin – and that silver is a better bet than gold.

Hemingway’s “slowly” method of going bankrupt has nearly run its course.  There’s no way to tell the timing on the “all at once” side of this trade but the price action in Bitcoin is signaling to the world that the obviously inevitable draws near.

Is Gold Signaling The Next Financial Crisis?

Gold and silver have been sold down pretty hard since April 18th. But the structure of the weekly Commitment of Traders report, which shows the long and short positions of the various trader classifications (banks, hedgers, hedge funds, other large investment funds, retail) had been flashing a short term sell signal for the last few weeks. The net short position of the Comex banks and the net long position of the hedge funds had reached relatively high levels. Except Thursday (May 4th), almost all of the price decline action was occurring after the London p.m. gold fix and during the Comex floor trading hours, exclusively. This tells us all we need to know about the nature of the selling, especially given the enormous amount of physical gold currently being accumulated by the usual eastern hemisphere countries. The table to the right  calculates the Comex banks’ paper gold positioning going back to 2005.  As you can see, currently the net short position and the net short position as a percent of total open interest has reached a relatively high level. This typically happens when the banks engage in raiding the Comex by unloading massive quantities of paper gold in bursts in order to trigger hedge fund stop-loss selling. It serves the dual purpose of pushing down the price of gold and providing a relatively riskless source of profits for the banks.

This is the cycle that has repeated numerous times per year since 2001. This time, however, more than any other time since 2001, the sell-off in the price of gold is counter-intuitive to the collapsing financial and economic condition of the United States, specifically, and the entire world in general. The likely reason for the current price take-down of gold is an attempt by the elitists to remove the batteries from the “fire alarm” mechanism embedded in a rising price of gold. An alarm that lets the populace know that there’s a big problem that will hit the system sooner or later; an alarm that lets the public know systemic failure is beyond Government and Central Bank Control.

A similar manipulated take-down of the price of gold and silver occurred in the spring of 2008, ahead of the great financial crisis. Gold was pushed down to $750 from $1050 and silver was taken down from $20 to $10. This price decline was counter-intuitive to the collapsing financial condition of the U.S. financial system, which had become obvious to anyone not blinded by the official propaganda at the time. Of course, after the financial collapse occurred and was addressed with money printing, the price of gold ran up to an all-time high.

It’s likely that a similar situation is taking place now. Only this time around all “assets” are in price-bubbles fomented by record levels of fiat money creation and the interminable expansion of credit. The debt portion of this equation is getting ready to hit the wall, the only question is timing. This explains the parabolic move in the price of Bitcoin. Bitcoin is nearly impossible to manipulate. Once the western Central Banks lose the ability to manipulate the price of gold in the derivatives markets, the price of gold and silver will go on their own parabolic price journey – one that will leave the price of Bitcoin in the rear view mirror.

If you are interested in getting unique, insightful gold/silver market analysis and mining stock investment ideas ahead of the market, subscribe to the Mining Stock Journal.  You can get more information about this here:  MSJ subscription info.

Key Economic Data Continue To Show A Recession

Goldman Sachs’ net income declined 42% from 2009 to 2016.   How many of  you reading this were aware of that fact?  Yet GS’ stock price closed today 36% above its 2009 year-end closing price.  See below for details.

Auto sales in April declined again, with the Big Three domestic OEMs (GM, F and Chrysler) missing Wall St estimates by a country mile.  The manipulated SAAR (seasonally adjusted annualize rate) metric put a thin layer of lipstick on the pig by showing a small gain in sales from March to April.  But this is statistical sleight of hand.  The year over year actuals for April don’t lie:   GM -5.7%, F -7% and Chrysler -7.1%.  What is unknown is to what extent the numbers reported as “sales” were nothing more than cars being shipped from OEM factory floors to dealer inventory, where it will sit waiting for an end-user to take down a big subprime loan in order to use the car until it gets repossessed.

The growth in loan origination to the key areas of the economy – real estate, general commercial business and the consumer – is plunging. This is due to lack of demand for new loans, not banks tightening credit. If anything, credit is getting “looser,” especially for mortgages. Since the Fed’s quantitative easing and near-zero interest rate policy took hold of yields, bank interest income – the spread on loans earned by banks (net interest margin) – has been historically low. Loan origination fees have been one of the primary drivers of bank cash flow and income generation. Those four graphs above show that the loan origination “punch bowl” is becoming empty.

HOWEVER, the Fed’s tiny interest rate hikes are not the culprit. Loan origination growth is dropping like rock off a cliff because consumers largely are “tapped out” of their capacity to assume more debt and, with corporate debt at all-time highs, business demand for loans is falling off quickly. The latter issue is being driven by a lack of new business expansion opportunities caused by a fall-off in consumer spending. If loan origination continues to fall off like this, and it likely will, bank earnings will plunge.

But it gets worse. As the economy falls further into a recession, banks will get hit with a double-whammy. Their interest and lending fee income will decline and, as businesses and consumers increasingly default on their loans, they will be forced to write-down the loans they hold on their balance sheet. 2008 all over again.

Because of this, I think Goldman Sachs (GS) makes a great short idea, although I don’t want to suggest timing strategies. It’s an idea that, in my view, you need to short a little at a time and add to it if the stock moves against you. I could also be a good “crash put” idea.

Goldman will be hit by a fall-off in loan demand and by a big drop in the fees from securitizing the loans it underwrites into asset-backed securities (ABS). In addition, GS facea an even bigger drop in the fees from structuring and selling OTC “hedge” derivatives to the buyers of Goldman-underwritten loans and ABS.

Goldman’s net interest income has declined over the last three years from $4.1 billion in 2014 to $2.6 billion in 2016. This is a 36.5% drop. To give you an idea of the degree to which bank net interest income has dropped since the “great financial crisis,” in its Fiscal Year 2009, Goldman’s net interest income was $7.4 billion. That’s a 64% drop over the time period.  In FY 2009, Goldman’s net income was $12.2 billion. In 2016, GS’ net income was $7.1 billion, as 42% decline.

To give you an idea of how overvalued GS stock is right now, consider this: At the end of GS’ FY 2007, 6 months before the “great financial crisis” (i.e. the de facto banking system collapse), Goldman’s p/e ratio was 9.5x. At the end of its FY 2009, its p/e ratio was 6.9x. It’s current p/e ratio 13.5x. And the factors driving Goldman’s business model, other than Federal Reserve and Government support, are declining precipitously.

As for derivatives…On its 2016 10-K, Goldman is showing a “notional” amount of $41 trillion in derivatives in the footnotes to its financials. This represents the sum of the gross long and short derivative contracts for which Goldman has underwritten. Out of this amount, after netting longs, shorts and alleged hedges, Goldman includes the $53 billion in “net” derivatives exposure as part of its “financial instruments” on the asset side of its balance sheet. Goldman’s book value is $86 billion.

If Goldman and its accountants are wrong by just 1% on Goldman’s “net” derivatives exposure, Goldman’s net derivatives exposure would increase to $94 billion – enough to wipe out Goldman’s book value in a downside market accident (like 2008). If Goldman and its “quants” have mis-judged the risk exposure Goldman faces on the $41 trillion in gross notional amount of derivatives to which Goldman is involved by a factor of 10%, which is still below the degree to which GS underestimated its derivatives exposure in 2008, it’s lights out for Goldman and its shareholders.

Think about that for a moment. We saw how wrong hedge accounting was in 2008 when Goldman’s derivative exposure to just AIG was enough to wipe Goldman off the Wall Street map had the Government not bailed out the banks. I would bet any amount of money that Goldman’s internal risk managers and its accountants are off by significantly more than 1%. That 1% doesn’t even account for the “fudge” factor of each individual trading desk hiding positions or misrepresenting the value of hedges – BOTH crimes of which I witnessed personally when I was a bond trader in the 1990’s.

As you can see in the 1-yr daily graph above, GS stock hit an all-time high on March 1st and has dropped 12.5% since then. I marked what appears to be a possible “double top” formation. The graph just looks bearish and it appears Goldman’s stock is headed for its 200 dma (red line,$202 as of Friday). To save space, I didn’t show the RSI or MACD, both of which indicate that GS stock is technically oversold.

The analysis above is from the April 16th issue of IRD’s Short Seller’s Journal. I discussed shorting strategies using the stock plus I suggested a “crash put” play. To find out more about the Short Seller’s Journal, use this link: SSJ Subscription information. There’s no minimum subscription period commitment. Try it for a month and if you don’t think it’s worth it, you can cancel. Subscribers to the SSJ can subscribe to the Mining Stock Journal at half-price.

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…

 

The Deep State Transcends Sovereign Law

The ultimate form of political and economic power is the power to commit crimes with impunity.  – John Titus

The Shadow of Truth is pleased to present a preview of, “All The Plenary’s Men,” the new film by John Titus (Best Evidence videos / Bailout Films).   The term “plenary” in this context is defined as, “complete in every respect;” as in, “plenary power,” meaning, “absolute power.”

In his spectacularly prophetic dystopian novel, “1984,” George Orwell offered the following observation about power:

Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.

The quiet revolution occurring behind the facade that is called “Washington, DC” for several decades has led to the complete hijacking of the U.S. Government by an entity nefariously known as, “The Deep State.”   Those who warned about The Deep State previously were labelled conspiracy theorists.  Now, with the help of Wikileaks, the idea of the Deep State is openly discussed even in the mainstream media.  The Deep State is Orwell’s Big Brother.

The ultimate power is the power to commit crimes with impunity, meaning that the entity committing the crime does so free from fear of punishment.   We saw this with the Iraq invasion in several respects.  The invasion was never sanctioned by the UN Security Council or in accordance with  the UN’s founding Charter.   It was an illegal war waged by what has become the world’s most dangerous terrorist:  The U.S. Deep State.   Big oil is
part of the Deep State.  Therefore, when Halliburton was caught charging the U.S. taxpayer $10/gallon for gasoline being sold to the military in Iraq, Halliburton was never punished.

Even more horrifying was watching the Too Big To Fail banks break ev
ery major securities law in the rule book leading up to the financial collapse of 2008 and escape free from any form of prosecution.  Not only were these banks allowed to trample all over the law, but the Government  used $800 billion of taxpayer money to keep the banks from collapsing and to enable the banks to pay large bonuses that year.

The primary theme underlying John Titus,’ “All The Plenary’s Men,” is that any entity that can commit crimes with impunity has risen above a nation’s sovereign law.  In fact, that entity IS the sovereign authority.   Thus, The Deep State is the sovereign authority standing behind the U.S. Government.  The Deep State is comprised of not just the NSA, CIA and Pentagon, but also Big Oil, Big Banks, Big Healthcare and Big Technology.

“We’ve been swirling down the toilet as a nation since 2007” (John Titus).  The Shadow Truth chatted with John about his upcoming film, for which he provided a thoroughly engrossing, if not chilling, trailer:

Make America Great Again: Buy Extremely Overvalued Stocks

Key Economic Data Continues To Show A Recession

The stock market assumed a decidedly bearish tone last week, in the face of apparent domestic political instability, increasing geopolitical tensions and, most important, a continued flow of hard economic data reflecting an economy that is in recession (click image to enlarge).

The SPX declined 3 out of the 4 trading days this last week to close down 1.1% from the previous Friday’s close. It’s down nearly 3% from the all-time high it hit on March 1st. Thursday’s big red bar took the SPX below the 50 dma. On all four days the SPX closed well below its intra-day high. This indicates to me that, at least for now, stock market traders are better sellers. Also of interest, for the first time in seventeen years, the stock market declined the day before the Good Friday market holiday.

The growth in loan origination to the key areas of the economy – real estate, general commercial business and the consumer – is plunging. This is due to lack of demand for new loans, not banks tightening credit. If anything, credit is getting “looser,” especially for mortgages. Since the Fed’s quantitative easing and near-zero interest rate policy took hold of yields, bank interest income – the spread on loans earned by banks (net interest margin) – has been historically low. Loan origination fees have been one of the primary drivers of bank cash flow and income generation. Those four graphs above show that the loan origination “punch bowl” is becoming empty.

HOWEVER, the Fed’s tiny interest rate hikes are not the culprit. Loan origination growth is dropping like rock off a cliff because consumers largely are “tapped out” of their capacity to assume more debt and, with corporate debt at all-time highs, business demand for loans is falling off quickly. The latter issue is being driven by a lack of new business expansion opportunities caused by a fall-off in consumer spending. If loan origination continues to fall off like this, and it likely will, bank earnings will plunge.

But it gets worse. As the economy falls further into a recession, banks will get hit with a double-whammy. Their interest and lending fee income will decline and, as businesses and consumers increasingly default on their loans, they will be forced to write-down the loans they hold on their balance sheet. 2008 all over again.  (The commentary above is an excerpt from the latest Short Seller’s Journal).

Despite the propaganda coming from the media, the housing market is in trouble.  37% of all transactions in 2016 were flips.  A flip double-counts a sale because the house trades twice before it ends up with the end-user.  I would bet that in the $300-$600k price-bucket that close to 50% of all transactions YTD in 2017 have been flips.  This is how the mid-2000’s housing bubble ended.

Today the housing starts report for March registered the biggest drop in four months.  Single family starts plunged 32% in the midwest and 16% in the west.   Both multi-family and single-family starts dropped.  Multi-family is going to be a big problem.  Prices in NYC and Miami are dropping like a rock and vacancies are soaring because of oversupply – just like in 2007.  Apartment rental rates are falling quickly and vacancy rates soaring across all the major MSA’s.   Manufacturing  output plunged in March, likely reflecting bulging car inventories at auto dealers, which are at  a post-2009 high.   OEM auto manufacturers are closing plants and laying off workers.  The latter, no doubt, will miraculously fail to register in the Governments next employment report.

Meanwhile, the stock market continues disconnect from underlying economic reality. Auto, retail and restaurant sales are plunging. The explanation for falling retail sales is simple: real average weekly earnings have dropped two months in a row. The consumer, as I’ve been suggesting, is tapped out on two fronts: disposable income and the capacity to take on more debt.

Despite the obvious intervention in the stock market by the Fed and the Government, via the Treasury’s Exchange Stabilization Fund, plenty of stocks are tanking. As an example, I recommended shorting Kate Spade (KATE) to my Short Seller Journal subscribers about a month ago at $23.50. The stock is trading at $18 this morning – 23% gain if you shorted the stock and even more if you used puts. You can get in-depth economic and market analysis plus ideas for taking advantage of the most overvalued stock market in U.S. history via IRD’s Short Seller’s Journal. For more information, click here:  Short Seller’s Journal Subscription Information.