13 December 2011

GEAB N°59 is available! Global systemic crisis: 30,000 billion US dollars in ghost assets will disappear by early 2013 / The crisis enters a phase of

As we come to the end of the second half of 2011, it is evident that 15,000 billion in ghost assets have gone up in smoke since last July, just as was anticipated by LEAP/E2020 (GEAB N°56 ). And, according to our team, this process figures to continue at the same rate throughout the year to come. Indeed we estimate that, with the introduction of a 50% discount on Greek government debt, the global systemic crisis has entered a new phase: that of the generalized discount on Western public debt and its corollary, the fragmentation of the global financial markets. Our team believes that 2012 will bring an average discount of 30% of total Western public debt (1), plus an equivalent amount in loss of assets from the balance sheets of worldwide financial institutions. Specifically, LEAP/E2020 anticipates the loss of 30,000 billion ghost assets by early 2013 (2), with an acceleration in 2012 of the partitioning process of the global financial market (3) into three increasingly disconnected currency areas: Dollar, Euro, and Yuan. These two phenomena feed into each other. They will also be the cause of a sharp decline of 30% on the part of US currency in 2012 (4), as we announced last April (GEAB N°54 ), which will occur amidst a sharp reduction in demand for the US dollar and the worsening of the US governmental debt crisis. The end of 2011 will therefore see, as anticipated, the trigger of the European debt crisis detonating a US bomb.

In this GEAB N°59 we will analyze in detail this new phase of the crisis as well as the deepening US debt crisis. Moreover, we will begin to present, as indicated in previous GEABs, our forecasts about the future of the United States between 2012 and 2016 (5) starting with a fundamental aspect of Euro-US relations (and more generally the global system that has been in place since 1945), namely the strategic and military relations between the US and Europe. We have estimated that by 2017 the last US soldier will have left European continental soil. Finally, LEAP/E2020 will present its recommendations, dealing this month with currency, gold, capital-based pensions, the financial sector, and commodities.

In this public announcement we have chosen to present the various elements that will determine the next escalation of the US debt crisis, while taking stock of the October EU summit and the Cannes G20 summit.

As anticipated by LEAP/E2020 for several months, the G20 summit in Cannes turned out to be a resounding failure, resulting in no significant measures, and demonstrating an incapability of addressing the issues of change in the international financial system, global economic recovery, or reform of global governance. If the Greek question took center stage during the summit, it is partly because the latter was lacking in content to begin with. George Papandreou enabled the G20 leaders to carry on “as if” Greek affairs had interrupted their work (6), when in fact the Greek crisis allowed them to disguise their inability to craft a common agenda.

Meanwhile, the decisions of the EU summit in the week before the Cannes summit have pointed to the official emergence of Euroland (with now two fixed summits each year) (7), the primacy of which will confer de facto decision-making authority within the EU (8). The pressure from this crisis has, in the last few days, helped to build the capacities of Euroland policies, putting it on the path to greater integration (9), a prerequisite to any positive developments towards a post-crisis world (10).

Comparison of national Italian (red), German (blue), and French (gray) budgets and debts, as percentage of GDP (2002-2011) - Source: Spiegel, 10/2011
With a government of national unity finally in place in Greece (11), a modern state must literally be built from the ground up, with a proper land registry and an effective administration enabling the Greeks to become “normal” members of Euroland, not subjects of a feudal system where prominent families and the church share the wealth and power. Thirty years after its unconditional integration into the European Community, Greece must go through a five or ten year transitional phase similar to that of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe before their EU accession: painful, but inevitable.

Italy, meanwhile, has managed to rid itself of a leader altogether typical of the world before the crisis, characterized by his “bling”, his racketeering, his unscrupulous acquisition of money, his unfounded self-satisfaction, his hold on the media, his constant Euro-criticism and junk nationalism (12), not to mention his overflowing libido. The scenes of joy in the streets of Italy show not all is wrong with this global systemic crisis! As we indicated in the previous GEAB, we believe that 2012 will for Euroland be a year of transition on the road to building the world after the crisis, instead of just suffering the woes of the collapsing system.

At the same time the United Kingdom has basically been kicked out of the Euroland meetings (13). EU members outside the Eurozone have backed Euroland in refusing to support the British proposal concerning the right of the 27 to veto Euroland decisions. The United Kingdom’s drift has been boosted by the efforts of British Eurosceptics (generally the foot soldiers of the City) (14) to try to sever as quickly as possible the strongest ties with continental Europe (15). Far from being proof of their policy’s success, it is rather an admission of complete failure (16). After twenty years of continuous efforts, they failed to disrupt the European integration process, which has been revived by the pressures of the crisis. So they are now “dropping hawsers” out of a fear – well founded, by the way (17) – of seeing the UK absorbed into Euroland by the end of this decade (18).

All told, it is a desperate march forward which, as pointed out by Will Hutton in a remarkably lucid article in the Guardian on 30/10/2011, can only lead the UK towards a break with a Scotland seeking to recover not only its independence (19) but also its European anchorage, and towards the socio-economic condition of an off-shore financial market without social protection (20) or an industrial base (21): in sum, a Dis-United Kingdom adrift (22).

And with its US ally in dire straits itself, that drift may drag on for years, to the great misfortune of a British people growing increasingly discontented with the City. Even veterans are beginning to join the Occupy the City movement (23); obviously, on this point, there is a convergence between the views of the British people and those of Euroland!

For consolation, British financiers can say that they hold the largest proportion of Japanese state assets outside of Japan, but when the IMF warns Japan of the systemic risk of maintaining public debt above 200% of GDP (24), is that such a consolation?

Japanese asset allocation (United States, United Kingdom, Euroland, China, Asia), in (1) percentage of countries’ GDP and (2) percentage of total foreign assets - Source: European Central Bank, 06/2011
Speaking of public debt, it is time to turn to the United States. The coming weeks figure to remind the world that it is this country, not Greece, that is at the epicenter of the global systemic crisis. In one week’s time, on November 23, the Congressional “Supercommittee” in charge of reducing the US federal deficit will admit its failure to find 1,500 billion US dollars in savings over ten years. Each side is already crafting arguments that will blame the other side (25). As for Barack Obama, apart from his televised simpering with Nicolas Sarkozy, he now contemplates the situation passively, while noting that Congress has torn into pieces his grand jobs project introduced only 2 months ago (26). And it is not the utterly unrealistic announcement of a new Pacific Customs Union (excluding China) (27) on the eve of an APEC summit where Chinese and Americans are expected to confront one another harshly, which will enhance his stature as head of state, let alone his chances for reelection.

The predictable failure of the “Supercommittee”, which reflects the overall paralysis of the US federal political system, will have an immediate and drastic consequence: a new series of credit ratings deteriorations. The Chinese agency Dagon has opened fire, confirming that it would once again lower the rating upon the failure of the “Supercommittee” (28). S&P will probably lower one more time the US rating, and Moody’s and Fitch will have then no other choice but to get on board, having given the US a reprieve until the end of the year under condition of effective results in terms of public deficit reduction. Incidentally, in order to dilute the flow of negative information in this regard, it is likely that there will be an attempt to reinforce the public debt crisis in Europe (29) by lowering France’s rating in order to weaken the European Financial Stability Fund (30).

All of this makes for an eventful season for the financial and monetary markets, casting severe blows on Western banking systems and, beyond that, on all US T-Bond holders. But beyond the failure of the “Supercommittee” to reduce the federal deficit, the entire US pyramid of debt will be thoroughly examined, in a context of global – and of course US – recession : falling tax revenues, unemployment increases, increases in the number of unemployed no longer receiving benefits (31), further drops in home values, etc.

US (in red) and Greek (in blue) private sector as a percentage of GDP (2000-2010) - Source: SuddenDebt, 03/2011
Let’s keep in mind that the state of US private debt is far worse than in Greece! In this context, we are not far from a panic-inducing situation abount the United States’s capacity to repay its debt other than with a devalued currency. The end of 2011, then, will see many US debt-holders seriously considering this ability and of the precise moment when it might suddenly be called into question by all financial players (32).

What could the United States offer after the failure of its “Supercommittee”? Not much, particularly in an election year! On the one hand it was created because other actions were not working, and on the other the issue is not so much one of amount but of the very ability to undertake a significant and sustained reduction. The failure of the “Supercommittee” will rightly be seen as evidence of this inability of the US in tacking the deficit problem.

In terms of the amounts at stake, a quick calculation by a USreader of GEAB gives some sense of how much the “efforts” undertaken to reduce the budget deficit are ridiculous in relation to the needs : Treating the US federal budget as that of a household, things become abundantly clear. Simply remove 8 zeros for budget that comes to mean something for the average citizen:

Annual household income (income tax): + 21,700
Family expenses (federal budget): + 38,200
New credit card debt (new debt): + 16,500
Past credit card debt (federal debt): + 142,710
Budget cuts already made: - 385
Budget reduction targets of the Supercommittee (for one year): - 1,500

As can easily be seen, the Supercommitte (like Congress last August) cannot even agree to a 10% reduction … of the annual increase in federal debt. This is how it is: unlike in Europe, which, over the months, has introduced new mechanisms and takes steps to reduce expenditures and debts (33), the US continues to run full speed into increasing debt. As a matter of fact, ni the next semester, Washington plans to issue 846 billion US dollars worth of Treasury bonds, 35% more than this time last year (34).

September 2011: Beginning of the loss of confidence by foreign central banks with respect to US Treasury – Trends in foreign central bank transactions concerning US Treasury and agency holdings (2000-2011) (in brown: monthly increases / green line: above, central banks are buying; below, they are selling Treasury bonds) - Source: CaseyResearch, 10/2011
With the failure of the MF Global investment fund, we have seen that Wall Street titans can crumble at once due to errors made regarding public debt trends in Europe. Jon Corzine is no Bernard Madoff. In moral terms, he is perhaps close, but as for the rest, there is no comparison. Madoff was a Wall Street maverick, but Corzine was a member of the aristocracy: former CEO of Goldman Sachs, former governor of New Jersey, main donor to the Obama 2012 presidential campaign, sensed to replace Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary last August (35), and one of the “creators” of Obama back in 2004 (36). This affair goes to the heart of the incestuous relationship between Wall Street Washington, one which is now being denounced by a majority of Americans (37).

In August, it appeared as if he was untouchable, on top of Wall Street; nevertheless he was completely mistaken about the course of events. He believed that the world had not changed, and that private creditors would continue to be paid “cash on the barrelhead”. The result: huge losses, bankruptcy, innumerable customers bilked, and 1,600 employers out on the street (38).

We announced in the previous GEAB that we have entered a phase involving the decimation of Western banks. This phase is truly in swing, and customers of all financial operators (banks, insurance companies, investment funds, pension funds) (39) are now questioning the soundness of these institutions. As is evident from the Corzine affair, they should not assume that these institutions are a priori stronger than others just because they or their leaders are famous or enjoying a strong reputation (40). It is not knowledge of the rules of the financial game of yesterday, which formed those reputations, that now counts; but rather it is the understanding that the rules have changed that has become crucial.


29 September 2011

China's 'resource imperialism' a risk for Australia: James Dines

Leading American investment analyst James Dines has criticised Australia for allowing China to buy large swathes of its natural resources in what he calls "resource imperialism".

Australia was in danger of squandering it's "irreplaceable inheritance ... traded for easily printed paper", Mr Dines said.

Mr Dines, the keynote speaker this week at the RIU Victorian Resources Roundup conference, told an audience of mining executives, brokers and investors that the end of capitalism as we knew it had arrived and that we were in the second great economic depression.
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His entertaining, if alarming, speech would have prompted mixed feelings among a crowd that included executives with a strong Chinese presence on their share registries.

State-owned Chinese companies are also becoming a major foreign investor in Australia.

Mr Dines, editor of the Dines Letter and author of numerous books, described natural resources, including farmland, as a source of real wealth that should be kept for "your descendants".

By pursuing resource imperialism, China was building stockpiles of commodities well above its immediate needs, such as rare earths - it already produces 97 per cent of the world total - and copper.

The Australian Foreign Investment Review Board blocked a $252 million bid by state-owned China Nonferrous Metal Mining to acquire Australian rare earth miner Lynas in 2009.

China's motivation

The world's most populous country wants to secure its resource needs for centuries to come.

Instead of seizing the means of production, as Karl Marx advocated, the Chinese Communist Party was legally buying it in what Mr Dines believes is the end of capitalism as we know it.

"They are not buying a copper mine to re-sell at a higher price. They are buying it to use all that copper for China," he said.

"China are storing (commodities) as a form of hard money for next century and beyond."

Mr Dines said he was not being anti-China.

"What they're doing is legal and far-sighted thinking."

He contrasted that with the US, where investors were fixated on quarter to quarter earnings.

Currency collapse

In contrast, the US and Europe had not learnt from history and had brought about a second economic depression by incurring massive debts and trying to make repayments by printing more money, he said.

He believes it will ultimately lead to the currency system collapsing.

The doubling of the money supply to pay for World War I led to inflation in the 1920s and the Depression of the 1930s, he said.

Mr Dines says what's needed is a currency linked to gold stores to limit printing.

America's government debt will swell to an estimated $US20 trillion in the next nine years was, something it will never repay, he says.

China currently holds $US3 trillion in foreign exchange assets and could "buy the whole world".

So, how should Australia and the world respond to this new world order?

The prevailing view here is that the mining boom is a great thing and will last indefinitely, with a rapidly urbanising China and India buying our resources.

But Mr Dines points out that heavy demand from the developing countries of the world will put a strain on finite resources, with oil certain to run out this century.

He says Australia should ensure that a percentage of all mines and farmland is kept in Australian hands, to protect the country's food and resource security.

High food prices prompted violent social unrest in the Middle East this year.

He also recommends relying less on mining and more on renewable industries such as tourism, crops and seafood.

"Sooner or later, Australia is going to need those rare earths for its own (hi-tech) manufacturing, or else your kids will be buying your own rare earths back from China, with a significant mark-up," Mr Dines said.

If he did have a positive message, it was to invest in gold and silver, which, he says, are the ultimate monetary metals, with gold having risen in value every one of the last 11 years.


19 September 2011

At what price will you sell silver

$100.00 seems a reasonable place to take some profits, away.

Don't Miss Out as Silver Prices Surge to
$150 an Ounce
September 16, 2011

By Martin Hutchinson, Global Investing Strategist, Money Morning
Silver prices had an exciting run-up in the year ending in April - they almost tripled, briefly touching $50 an ounce before settling back down to the low $30s.

Now, silver prices are back above $40 an ounce. That may have you feeling the urge to sell - but don't.

Resist the temptation to sell silver because this recovery is for real, and it has much further to go.

In fact, I anticipate silver prices will peak at $150 an ounce within the next 12-18 months.

The reason is simple: With central banks around the world pushing lax monetary policies, prices for all commodities - gold and silver in particular - will invariably rise.

We've already seen this happen with gold hitting a record high $1,923.70 an ounce on Sept. 7. And when gold goes higher, silver quickly follows.

That's reflected in something called the "gold/silver ratio," which shows how many ounces of silver it takes to buy one ounce of gold. Traditionally, this ratio acts as a price barometer for the two precious metals. And if you look at it right now, it's easy to see that $150 silver isn't far in the offing.

The Gold/Silver Ratio
Gold and silver prices traditionally move together because both are considered stores of value in inflationary times. And while we think of gold as the premier store of value, remembering the 19th century gold standard, other societies - notably the Spanish empire in the Americas, Imperial China and Mogul India - used the silver standard and are hence more focused on silver when inflation threatens.

In the 19th century and before, silver and gold prices maintained a fairly steady relationship to each other in a ratio of 16 to 1. Silver depreciated against gold in the 20th century. However, it also acquired industrial uses, which is something gold never did (the two metals are chemically very similar, but silver is much cheaper and hence more suitable for industrial uses).

The gold/silver ratio briefly approached 16 to 1 in the 1980 precious metals bubble (silver peaked at $50 per ounce, gold at $875) but then fell back beyond 50 to 1, with gold trading around $250 an ounce in the late 1990s, while silver was below $5 an ounce.

Gold was the first to take off after 2000. And by 2010, gold traded well above $1,000 an ounce while silver traded at $12-$14 an ounce - a ratio of close to 80 to 1. This was unsustainable, and it resulted in the price rise of 2010-11, which at its peak took silver to $50 an ounce and about a 30 to 1 ratio to the price of gold.
First, the use of silver as an industrial metal falls off sharply when the price spikes. That frees up silver supplies while investment demand for gold soars. With a more elastic supply, you would expect silver's price peak to be dampened rather than exaggerated.

The second reason is that the 1980 silver price spike was caused by the Hunt Brothers' attempt to corner the silver market. No such attempt is visible today.

So the peak ratio of silver to gold is much more likely to reach something closer to 25 to 1.

The peak in gold is yet unknown, but for supply/demand reasons it seems likely to be above $2,500 an ounce - today's equivalent of the 1980 peak, adjusted for inflation - but less than $5,000 an ounce - the 1980 peak adjusted for growth in world gross domestic product (GDP) or money supply.

That would suggest a silver price peak between $100 and $200 per ounce, with $150 an ounce the most likely outcome.

Ultimately, the market won't turn bearish until global monetary policy tightens. In fact, it will probably be some months after policy is reversed before precious metals change course. That was the case in 1980, when peak prices for gold and silver lagged by more than three months Paul Volcker's first decisive move to tighten money supply.

With the November 2012 U.S. Presidential election looming large on the horizon, we probably have at least another year of rising prices. However, we may not have as much as two years.

So, all things considered, I'd keep any silver holdings at least until prices reached $150 an ounce.

30 August 2011

From Green to Red – Is Credit Crunch 2.0 Imminent?

Satyajit Das is author of Traders, Guns and Money: Knowns and unknowns in the dazzling world of derivatives (August 2006) and Extreme Money: The Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk (August 2011)

In Crosstown Traffic, Jimi Hendrix sang: “can’t you see my signals turn from green to red / And with you I can see a traffic jam straight up ahead.” In global financial markets, the signals have changed from green to red. But rather than a simple traffic jam, a full scale credit crash may be ahead.

In financial markets, facts never matter until they do but there are worrying indications.

Fact 1 – The European debt crisis has taken a turn for the worse.

There is a serious risk that even the half-baked bailout plan announced on 21 July 2011 cannot be implemented.

The sticking point is a demand for collateral for the second bailout package. Finland demanded and got Euro 500 million in cash as security against their Euro 1,400 million share of the second bailout package. Hearing of the ill-advised side deal between Greece and Finland, Austria, the Netherlands and Slovakia also are now demanding collateral, arguing that their banks were less exposed to Greece than their counterparts in Germany and France entitling them to special treatment. At least, one German parliamentarian has also asked the logical question, why Germany is not receiving similar collateral.

Of course, Greece, which does not have two Euros to rub together, doesn’t have this collateral and would need to borrow it.

Compounding the problem is Greece’s fall in Gross Domestic Production (“GDP”) was worse than forecast, even before the latest austerity measures become effective. The Greek economy has shrunk by around 15% since the crisis began. 2-year borrowing costs for Greece are now over 40%, pawnbroker levels. The next installment of Greece’s first bailout package is due to be released as at end September. Some members of the International Monetary Fund (“IMF”) are already expressing deep misgivings about further assistance to Greece, in the light of the seeming inability of the country to meet its end of the bargain.

A disorderly unwind of the Greek debt problem cannot be ruled out. Ireland and Portugal remain in difficulty. Spain and Italy also remain embattled with only European Central Bank (“ECB”) purchases of their bonds keeping their interest rates down. Concern about the effect of these bailouts on France and Germany is also intensifying.

Concerns about US and Japanese government debt are also increasing.

Official forecasts show that America’s national debt will increase by $3.5 trillion from its existing $14.5 trillion over the next decade. These forecasts are unlikely to be met unless the political deadlock over the budget is overcome and economic growth recovers. Japan was downgraded to AA- and its longer-term economic prognosis continues to be poor.

Facts 2 – Problems with banks have re-emerged.

Banks globally, especially European banks, are seen as increasingly vulnerable to European debt problems. The total exposure of the global banking system to Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy is over $2 trillion. French and Germany banks have very large exposures.

If there are defaults, then these banks will need capital, most likely from their sovereigns. As they are increasingly themselves under pressure, their ability to support the banking system is unclear. The pressure is evident in the share prices of French banks; Societe Generale’s share price has fallen by nearly 50% in a relatively short period of time.

In the US, concerns about Bank of America (“BA”) have emerged, with analysts suggesting that the bank requires significant infusions of capital. The major concerns relate to BA’s investment in US mortgage originator Countrywide including continuing litigation losses, exposure to European banks, loans to commercial real estate and the quality of other assets, such as mortgage servicing rights and goodwill resulting from its acquisition of Merrill Lynch.

BA claims that its exposure of $17 billion to European sovereigns was hedged. As the world discovered in 2008, it wasn’t whether you were hedged but who you were hedged with and whether they were financially able to perform that was the issue.

BA shares have fallen by roughly 40% price over the past month, compared to a 15% decline in the S&P 500. The cost of credit insurance on BA risk has also increased sharply.

BA decision to issue $5 billion in preference shares to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, now confirmed as the market’s lender of last resort, at distressed prices was not a statement of strength but weakness. BA needs more capital in any case and Buffett is betting on both BA and if things go wrong that the US taxpayer will bail him out as they did with his investment in Goldman Sachs.

BA’s woes confirm that problems in the banking system exist globally, not only in Europe.

Fact 3 – Money markets are seizing up

Banks and financial institutions are finding it increasingly difficult to raise funds. Costs have risen sharply.

Spanish and Italian banks have limited access to international commercial funding. Like Greek, Irish and Portuguese banks, they are heavily reliant on funding from local investors and central banks, including the ECB.

American money market funds, which manage around $1.6 trillion, historically invested around 40-45% ($600-700 billion) with European financial institutions. Over the last few months, the money market funds have reduced their exposure to European entities, especially Spanish and Italian banks. The funds have also decreased the term of their loans to the European entities that they are willing deal with to as little as 7 days at a time, in an effort to limit risk.

European banks are having to pay higher interest rates, if they can attract funds. The problems are not confined to European financial institutions. Despite limited known direct exposure to European sovereigns and their relatively strong financial positions, Australian banks’ credit costs in international money markets have increased by more than 1.00% in less than 3 months.

As a result, non-financial institutions are finding finance less readily available and more expensive. Anecdotal evidence suggest that businesses are having difficulty financing normal commercial transactions, recalling the credit problems of late 2008/ early 2009.

Banks are increasingly following Tennessee Williams’ advice for survival: “We have to distrust each other. It is our only defense against betrayal.”

Fact 4 – The broader economic environment is deteriorating.

The global economic recovery is stalling. The risk of a recession or minimal growth is significant.

The favourable stock market reaction to the latest report of growth in orders for durable goods in America misses an essential point. At around $200 billion an month, it is still around 20% below its peak in 2007 and only at 2000 levels.

Germany and emerging market economies, like China and India, which have contributed the bulk of global growth since 2008, are showing signs of slowing. The effects of the excessive credit expansion in China and India are showing up in bank bad debts.

Then there are pernicious feedback loops. Tighter money market conditions feed into lower growth, increasing the problems of government finances. Falling tax revenues and rising expenditures push up budget deficits, requiring greater borrowing. Lower growth feeds into greater business failures that increase bank bad debts, feeding further tightening in lending conditions and the cost of finance.

The rapid and marked deterioration in economic and financial conditions means that the risk of a serious disruption is now significant.

If market seize up again, then “this time it will be different“. There might just not be enough money to bail out everyone and every country that may need rescuing.

Government policy options are severely restricted. Government support is restricted because of excessive debt levels and the reluctance of investors to finance indebted sovereigns. Interest rates in most developed countries are low or zero, restricting the ability to stimulate the economy by cutting borrowing cost. Unconventional monetary strategies – namely printing money or quantitative easing – have been tried with limited success. Further doses, while eagerly anticipated by market participants, may not be effective.

The global economy may muddle through, but a second credit crash is now distinctly possible. But the trigger and timing is unknown. As John Maynard Keynes remarked: “The expected never happens; it is the unexpected always.”


-Satyajit Das
August 27, 2011


21 June 2011

Global systemic crisis – Last warning before the Autumn 2011 shock, when $15 trillion of financial assets go up in smoke

On December 15, 2010, in the GEAB N°50, LEAP/E2020 anticipated the explosion of Western government debt (1) in the second half of 2011. We were then describing a process that would start with the European government debt crisis and then set fire to the heart of the global financial system, namely US federal debt (2). And here we are with this issue at the start of the second half of 2011, with a global economy in complete disarray (3), an increasingly unstable global monetary system (4) and financial centres in desperate straits (5), all this despite the thousands of billions of public money invested to avoid precisely this type of situation. The insolvency of the global financial system, and of the Western financial system in the first place, returns again to the front of the stage after just over a year of political cosmetics aimed at burying this fundamental problem under truckloads of cash.

We estimated in 2009 that the world had about 30 trillion USD in ghost assets. Almost half went up in smoke in the six months between September 2008 and March 2009. For our team, it's now the other half’s turn, the 15 trillion USD of ghost assets remaining, purely and simply vanishing between July 2011 and January 2012. And this time, it will also involve government debt, unlike 2008/2009 where it was mostly private players who were affected. To gauge the extent of the coming shock, it is worth knowing that even US banks are starting to reduce their use of US Treasury Bonds to guarantee their transactions for fear of the increasing risks weighing on US government debt (6).

For the financial world’s players, the Autumn 2011 shock will literally be the ground giving way beneath their feet, since it’s really the foundation of the global financial system, the US Treasury Bond, which will plunge sharply (7).

US Federal debt and forecasts (2000-2016) (in billions USD) - Sources: US Treasury/ Berruyer / GEAB, 06/2011
In this issue, we discuss the two most dangerous aspects of the Autumn 2011 shock, namely:
. the detonating mechanism of European government debt
. the explosion process of the US bomb in terms of government debts

At the same time, in the context of the acceleration of the rebalancing of global power relationships, we introduce the anticipation of a fundamental geopolitical process for the holding of a Euro-BRICS summit by 2014.

Finally, we focus our recommendations on the means of avoiding being part of the 15 trillion USD in ghost assets that will go up in smoke in the coming months, with a special mention for developments in real estate in Europe whose collapse we used to anticipate for 2015 will start in fact as early as 2012.

In the public announcement of this GEAB issue, we introduce a portion of the anticipation on the detonating mechanism of European government debt.

European Central Bank balance sheet holdings (red: asset backed securities / light blue: public sector bonds / green: bank bonds / dark blue: other corporate bonds / beige: other securities) - Sources: Spiegel / BCE, 05/2011

The detonating mechanism of European government debt
The Anglo-Saxon financial operators have played sorcerer's apprentice for the last year and a half and the first headlines in the Financial Times in December 2009 on the Greek crisis quickly became a so-called "Euro crisis". We will not dwell on the vicissitudes of this enormous chicanery with a news item (8) orchestrated from the City of London and Wall Street, as we have already devoted many pages to it in a number of GEAB issues throughout this period. Suffice it to say that eighteen months later the Euro is doing well while the dollar continues its downward spiral against major world currencies; and that all those who bet on the collapse of the Eurozone have lost a lot of money. As we anticipated the crisis favors the emergence of a new sovereign, Euroland, which now allows the Eurozone to be much better prepared than Japan, the United States or the United Kingdom (9) for the Autumn 2011 shock ... even if it ends up, quite reluctantly, playing the role of detonator. The "bombardment" (since we must call things by their proper name) (10), interspersed with breaks of several weeks (11), to which Euroland has been subjected during all this time, in fact had three consecutive major effects, two of them far from the results expected by Wall Street and the City:

1. at first (December 2009 - May 2010), it removed the European currency’s sense of invulnerability formed in 2007/2008, introducing doubts about its durability and more precisely putting the idea that the Euro was the natural alternative to the US dollar (or even its successor) into perspective

2. then (June 2010 - March 2011), it conducted Euroland leaders to start work at "top speed" on all measures to safeguard, protect and strengthen the single currency (measures which should have been taken many years ago). In so doing it has revitalized European integration and reinstated the founding core at the head of the European project, thus marginalizing the United Kingdom in particular (12). At the same time it has boosted increasing support for the European currency from the BRICS, headed by China, which after a moment of hesitation became aware of two fundamental points: first Europeans were acting seriously to face up to the problem and secondly, given the Anglo-Saxon determination, the Euro was obviously an essential tool for any attempt to exit the "dollar world" (13).

3. Finally, (April 2011 - September 2011), it is currently compelling the Eurozone to start reaching for the sacrosanct private investors to make them contribute to solving the Greek problem especially via “voluntary” repayment rescheduling (or any other form of cuts in expected profits) (14).

As one can imagine, if the first blow really was one of the objectives pursued by Wall Street and the City (besides the fact of turning attention away from the United Kingdom and United States’ massive problems), on the other hand the other two had effects totally opposite to the desired outcome: to weaken the Euro and reduce its attractiveness worldwide.

Especially since a fourth series is gearing itself up which will see, by early 2012 (15), the launch of a Eurobond mechanism, enabling the sharing of a part of Euroland countries’ debt issuance (16), and the inevitable growing political pressure (17) to increase the share of the private contribution in this broad process of restructuring (18) the debt of the Eurozone’s peripheral countries (19).

Progression of Greek debt and its structure (in € Billions (red : expiring debt ; green : budget deficit ; violet : EU loans ; brown : IMF loans ; blue : other - Sources : Le Figaro / SG CIB, 05/2011
And with this fourth series one enters the heart of the contagion process that will trigger the US federal debt bomb. Because, first, in creating a global media and financial environment ultra-sensitive to the issues of government indebtedness, Wall Street and the City have revealed the unsustainable size of US, British and Japanese government deficits (20). This has even forced the rating agencies, faithful watchdogs of the two financial centres, to engage in a mad race to downgrade countries’ ratings. It is for this reason that the United States now finds itself under the threat of a downgrade, as we had anticipated, even though it seemed unthinkable to most experts only a few months ago. At the same time, the United Kingdom, France, Japan... also find themselves in the rating agencies’ crosshairs (21).

Remember that these agencies have never forecast anything of importance (neither subprime, nor the global crisis, nor the Greek crisis, nor the Arab Spring, ...). If they downgrade willy nilly today it’s because they have been caught at their own game (22). It’s no longer possible to downgrade A without affecting B’s rating if B is no better off. The "assumptions" on the fact that it’s impossible for any particular state to default on its debt have not withstood three years of crisis: this is where Wall Street and the City have fallen into the trap which threatens all aspiring sorcerers’ apprentices. They have not seen it would be impossible for them to control the hysteria kept up over Greek debt. So today it’s the US Congress, with the bitter debate on the debt ceiling and massive budget cuts, that the consequences of the misleading articles in recent months about Greece and the Eurozone enlarge. Once again, our team can only stress that if history has any sense, it’s certainly a sense of irony.

Industrial production in China (red) and India (green) (2006-2011) - Source: Marketwatch / Factset China / India Stats, 06/2011


14 April 2011

‘Gold's advance to super cycle indicates demise of dollar, collapse of economy’

‘Gold's advance to super cycle indicates demise of dollar, collapse of economy’

By Jijo Jacob

The runaway rise in gold prices is here to stay. And that is not just bad news to the U.S. economy. A sustained gold and oil boom indicates that the dollar is slipping into grave danger and the economy closer to collapse.

"... when these commodities go up in price it is a sign that the U.S. dollar is dying and that our country is getting closer to economic collapse," Michael Snyder wrote in Daily Markets on Thursday.

In simple words, the gold and silver boom indicates that investors everywhere in the world are losing trust in the dollar and the U.S. government treasuries. And they seek out something they can trust more.

A Standard chartered Bank report on Thursday said dollar will further weaken against the Chinese yuan and Indian rupee.

Synder blames the quantitative easing for the loss of dollar value. He says the policy of pumping huge amounts of money into the financial system is highly inflationary and a form of cheating.

He says it is "like playing Monopoly with someone that reaches under the table and pulls out a bunch of extra money when they are almost broke."

"The U.S. has been running trillion dollar deficits for several years now, and this has created a lot of new money." And he says the rest of the world is now seriously doubting the sustainability of U.S. government debt. And this is reflecting in the commodities boom.

The Standard Chartered bank report said gold prices could reach $2100 by 2014 per ounce and that as high a price as $5000 per ounce by the end of the decade is possible.

Gold prices have currently crossed the new record peak of $1460, which is a manifold jump from a lowly $265 at the start of the decade.

The bank said gold prices are yet to hit the super cycle as demand from the emerging economies like China and India will scale to peak levels later in the current decade.

"We find that there is a powerful relationship between income per head in Asian emerging markets and the gold price, which suggests further significant upside for gold," the report says.

Besides gold, silver is inching to another peak of $40 and there is already talk that it will soon touch $50. While the rise of oil prices is owing to different a set of reasons, this also implies serious troubles for the U.S. economy.

Snyder says high oil prices are indicative of greater damage to the economy than high gold prices.

8 April 2011

Deflationists & Blind Eyes

My forecast has been for a powerful Inflationary Recession to occur, a consistently laid out analysis, delivered during the last year or more in clear terms. That has been my call, and continues to be my call. The Deflationist camp is making more noises. They do not know their limitations, which are obstructed by a blind eye toward the monetary inflation. They do not understand it, so they ignore it, and attempt to encapsulate it into a convenient bottle set aside on the margin. Gonzalo Lira will be proved wrong about price inflation showing on the official Consumer Price Inflation index. So what? The prevailing price inflation will ramp past 12% easily as he also predicts. His style is wonderful, even if a mirror is a fixture at his desk. His details in argument are strong and cogent. An anger meter is a fixture at my desk. So what? Since the emergency G-7 Meeting held two weeks ago, the central banks have joined forces in a Global QE movement that will propel the Gold & Silver price much higher and render deep further damage to the USDollar. The Deflationists paid no notice, or did not notice, or did not comprehend the importance. They are a laughing stock crew of half blind shamans.


The Deflationists fail consistently to measure the flow or pace of inflation, seeming mouthpieces without realization for the USFed and Wall Street itself, whose incessant calls of dreaded deflation have opened the political floodgate for global monetary hyper-inflation. They do not even recognize their compromised subservient support role. The aberrant crowd of Deflationists have a blind eye to the dynamics of inflation, and how it transforms from excessive funds in the financial system, to reaction against the USDollar, to rising commodity prices, to rising cost structure, and finally to extreme pressures for end product prices, including higher wages. They dismiss each step of the way, and do not bother to explain their progressive errors along the pathogenesis pathway. The USFed has passively developed followers like a Pied Piper. They are just lousy economists in the Deflationist camp. A good technical analyst on chart interpretation in no way makes for economist qualification. They cannot integrate complex systems where both asset deflation and monetary inflation coincide, collide, and conspire to produce economic wreckage and price inflation. They act sheepish when what they predict will not happen, actually comes to pass. Recall they have been preaching for three years that crude oil and gold would descend lower in prices. They serve as the bell tower in an empty village. They have also been preaching that end product prices would fall also due to low final demand. They are consistently wrong, but never apologetic. Sadly, most Deflationists cannot adequate even define deflation, even when challenged. It is a catch-word they fixate upon, that permits them to dismiss anything and everything pertaining to the ravaging complex effects of monetary inflation, whose dynamics are beyond their scope of comprehension, perhaps even recognition.

Mine are not rants, but detailed arguments with numerous factors fortifying arguments put forth toward a thesis defended on many fronts in broad fashion for over five years. To be sure, my work includes some invective due to overflowing anger at the system having gone so far awry with deep fraud, coordinated media deception, impunity for those responsible, and elevated powers granted to them during reforms. Rants are shallow harangues. Mine is thorough analysis put to paper. These guys should consult a dictionary, as some of their own haughty dismissals fail to address or respond to much of anything my work has put forth. The word rant might invite an accusation of shallow in the mental process. They often argue in a circle under the pretense of confrontation, never addressing important points like the flow of the increased monetary aggregate, and its destinations with strong effects. One analyst in particular should really stick to what he does best, that being technical chart analysis. While the historical economics books of the past are indeed enlightening in theory, little truly applies to explain all that occurs in the profound intervention and rigged financial markets led by a criminal elite class whose main enterprise is clearly war and narcotics, followed by orchestrated chaos designed to permit broad elite powers. Their past excellent work should be kept on the wall for constant reminder of true market forces, true economic forces, all of which are opposed by powerful criminal actions and heavy handed monetary policy.


My main ongoing criticism of the Deflation camp has been their blind eye to the human response to asset deflation. Obvious home prices fell and continue to fall, and related asset backed bonds have fallen progressively into ruin. That is not the point. Their camp has consistently ignored the central bank response with multi-$trillion monetary expansion. In round #1, the excesses were tucked away in the Federal Reserve interest bearing account for the big banks. They were essentially Loan Loss Reserves of those banks, which were removed from the big bank balance sheets only to be relocated on the USFed books. In round #2, the excesses went global with the entire commodity complex exploding upward in price. Purchase of USTreasury Bonds in the hundreds of $billions cannot be contained anymore than herding tiger cats. Most noticeable among commodity price rises was in food & energy. With most food items up 15% to 20% in price in a single year, and gasoline up 25% in several months, the pinch is on with powerful price inflation. But it appears on the cost side, as my analysis has mentioned numerous times. What the Deflationists miss from the start is that the extreme storm conditions come from the falling asset prices and wage effects on the one side to form a low pressure zone, meeting the rising monetary expansion and counter reaction by commodity prices against the debased USDollar in a high pressure zone. Thus the collision and powerful storm vortex, which they miss with blind eyes. Their camp never addresses the storm conditions, ever. The Deflationists show their blind eye by overlooking, or ignoring, or never noticing the storm itself, where natural collapse meets extraordinary monetary aggregate growth in reaction. They never mention multi-$trillion central bank expansion of the money supply, which debases the value of money, even making a total mockery of money, thereby adding to the cost structure in a massive way, pressuring prices and wages. The rising stock indexes serve as evidence of the monetary inflation, which they do not recognize.

My point made consistently is that wages will not keep pace with rising costs, even made a national priority to halt the secondary inflation effects on wages. In that sense, my analysis has joined the Deflationists, but only with one foot in their shallow pond of constructs, hardly qualifying as a School of Thought. Since wages do not keep pace with costs, the unemployment will rise and has risen, a point made consistently here. Therefore my work cannot be carelessly labeled as over the top inflationist. Sadly, most Deflationists do not understand how to read my analysis, because they operate with a blind eye to the many sided crisis, too focused on his narrow perspective that cannot adapt to the current complex situation. The Deflationists cannot integrate into their shallow thinking the combination of inflation on the monetary side and deflation on the asset (and wage) side, surely a difficult and extraordinary situation loaded with complexity. They lost my respect long ago, the entire clan. Most of their followers in paid subscription services suffered crippling personal financial losses. A few analyst newsletter writers from their camp have learned nothing and continue their tired saw with shallow analysis and a string of wrong-footed forecasts. So be it!


The heart of the matter is not the outcome, but the path to the end point. If a man and woman are destined to be placed in a cemetery crypt, is that a reason not to marry and enjoy a life together, filled with bliss and human challenge? Of course not. One should hate to be married to one of those Deflation Knuckleheads, a downtrodden and bleak crowd. The pathway is where fortunes are made and lost. The Deflationists have gotten it wrong for a long time. One should not be overly concerned about three years from now if an economic collapse takes place. That is the obvious outcome, not too challenging an issue at all. The Deflationists believe they offer wisdom in such a pronouncement. It is obvious. The wrong-footed Deflationists have focused on for a long time, with precious little elucidation of the path to the end. My concern is the extent to which the cost structure will rise, and then how much the end product & service price system will rise, and how much the wages will rise in compensation upon concerted demand. The Deflationists have ignored the pressure in 2007 and 2008 and never foresaw the entire Quantitative Easing movement, which was forecasted with ease in the Hat Trick Letter. The Deflationists consistently ignore the powerful effects of Quantitative Easing itself. They dismiss the human response to falling asset prices. The only conventional assets rising nowadays are stocks and farmlands. The thesis put forth that DEFLATION WILL PREVAIL BY SNUFFING OUT THE HYPER-INFLATION represents a cavalier avoidance of the entire sequence toward the end, reveals lack of comprehension of the extreme forces in conflict, and attempts to sit above the fray in arrogance beset by ignorance. Of more concern to me, and millions of people, is the important middle portion of the game, that happen from innings three thru eight. The ninth inning calls by wrong-footed blind eyed Deflationists pale by comparison to discussions on whether banksters take global control of governments, how the current monetary system is fracturing, whether new monetary forms are shoved down our throats, or how an alternative oppositional monetary system can overthrow those in regimes in power. They never discuss such lofty but important concepts, since they do not comprehend them, cannot perceive them, and cannot envision them. They retreat from such discussions.

The Deflationist themes ignore the Inflation story. The G-7 Meeting to adopt the Yen Selloff Pact was a veiled GLOBAL QE ACCORD. The pact has not even been discussed by the shallow Deflationist camp even though it is the most signficant policy directive since September 2008, more important than the original QE decision in March 2009. That is because it is Global QE, stamped and approved by the major central banks, monetary hyper-inflation gone global. The Deflationists live in a cave, unaware of such events or dismissive of them in arrogance. They instead continue to defend the wrong-footed construct of Deflation. In personal email and telephone exchanges, my habit is to constantly laugh at their pre-occupation with Deflation. On more than 40-50 occasions with certain contacts, my reply is simply WHAT IS DEFLATION?? Shallow responses come in return, unimpressive one and all. We will continue to experience and suffer both deflation of assets and wages, during a massive storm of hyper-inflation from central banks. The inflationary effect is a perverse factor toward the real game on stage. Do not expect wages to keep up with the rising costs. This has been a major point of mine all along, so a massive squeeze will continue. The Deflationists do not understand the reaction to the squeeze, focusing arrogantly on the endpoint. Their work is of little practical value, certainly of zero investment value. The squeeze will render harm to both households and businesses, with lost discretionary spending and lost profit margins. Their debate over which prevails misses the entire point. That is, the Deflation will continue in certain asset classes, especially housing and commercial property, while the Inflation will continue in monetary aggregate, TO MAKE A GROWING POWERFUL DAMAGING GLOBAL HURRICANE. Much end product price inflation will come. More end service price inflation will come. See shipping charges for a start. It seems obvious that the Deflationists ignore the battle and try to describe the outcome in narrow myopic terms. In a sense, they are the flat earth society.


Obviously, we cannot have a Weimar-style hyper-inflation. We do live in a credit based global economy. But the reasons why differ since the current global situation is different. The Weimar conditions were local to the microcosm that was Germany. It was enclosed. The current situation has its Weimar elements, especially endorsed by the recent March G-7 Meeting. That is global Weimar by any name, given its global coordination of USTreasury Bond purchase after broad discharge from Japan. The Deflationists cannot comprehend a global Weimar concept.


To begin with, 12 to 18 months ago the Deflationist camp claimed the price of crude oil and the Gold price would fall and dramatically so. Wrong on both counts. Curiously, the camp avoids defending their wrong-footed points as the months pass, while the crude oil price zips past $120 (Brent that is, since West Texas is the province of paper games), while the Gold price hurtles toward $1500. Have Deflationists not noticed? People are moving rapidly out of quickly debased paper money and into tangible goods. Conversion of USTreasurys has become commonplace among sovereign wealth funds. Have Deflationists not noticed? This is the basis of the commodity price rise and the basis of the precious metals price rise. The USFed has in fact picked up almost the entire slack in USTBond purchase during the massive conversion process. The movement is better observed outside the US Dome of Perception, where foreign USTBond creditiors have openly halted their USTreasury bids, replaced by the USFed printing pre$$ eagerly. Foreign sovereign wealth funds across the globe have openly expressed their dismay over the entire QE initiatives, anger of unilateral monetary policy decisions made in the United States with seeming contempt, and the consequent harsh effect on commodity prices. They have increased their gold (and even silver) purchases in conversion of US$-based assets. They have rebalanced their reserves. They have stopped bidding at USTreasury auctions. Have Deflationists not noticed?

Germany's financial collapse took several years. So is the US financial collapse, a long painful process. What began with a subprime mortgage problem in mid-2007 spread to a full blown housing decline, a bank insolvency problem, then a sovereign debt problem, then a monetary inflation solution with severe blowback, and now a monetary system discredit problem. The pathogenesis has so far spanned four years. Have Deflationists not noticed? Anyone who believes the US financial collapse could occur in a single week is a moron. Actually, such an observer would be a blind man and moron. The US banking system in my view suffered a death experience in September 2008. The coroner was overridden by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, thus declaring the corpse permitted to walk with props and to speak from a recorded message, pretending to be alive. After April 1st decree in 2009, the Zombies have roamed the US landscape freely. Have Deflationists not noticed? The big US banks have been operating with an Extend & Pretend policy that their crippled balance sheet overloaded with toxic credit assets will somehow recover in the next year. Instead, the Real Estate Owned (REO) residential homes on the bank books have ballooned to over one million properties. Almost half of all home sales are short sales and foreclosure sales. The entire process has been extended to the extreme over times. Have Deflationists not noticed?

Financial assets are indeed being shifted into hard assets, in particular the basic commodities. Nations are building stockpiles. The main focus has been on crude oil to the commecial side and to Gold & Silver on the financial side. But some speculation has come to the copper market (which JPMorgan seems interested in), to the coffee market due to problems in Africa, to the sugar market (which JPMorgan seems fond of), and to the cotton market from broad necessity. Financial mavens, news anchors, and hedge fund managers have all been touting their strategies in response to runaway monetary inflation commanded from the marbled offices of the USFed. They respond to the devaluation of money itself. The migration to hard assets is well along. Have Deflationists not noticed?

Did somebody say there was insufficient currency to drive up and power hyper-inflation? Excuse me, but that statement truly misses the 800-pound gorilla sitting at the Deflationist dinner table. The USFed has expanded its balance sheet to over $3 trillion. The USFed has printed over $2.7 trillion in QE programs, with much more to come. That figure does not account for their secretive monetary extensions, like grants without collateral to fellow central bankers and friends of the syndicate. In fact, the QE program will soon be announced as ended, since so offensive, when in fact it will be incorporated and melded completely into routine weekly activity. The Euro Central Bank, the Bank of England, and the Bank of Japan have all joined in the paper confetti production enterprise. Have Deflationists not noticed? The spillover from the banks who hoarded the USTBonds took place and the spilled funds hit the commodity market. The Deflationists claimed it would not happen, no spillover of any kind. They were wrong. The next spillover will be to end product prices, and to some extent wages. The Deflationists will be wrong again. But the wage hikes will not be adequate to manage the higher costs to come. The increase in money supply plays out symptomatically under their noses without much recognition or comprehension.

The next phase will be for Cost Push, which will introduce higher prices and smaller packages by vendors. Then come demands for higher wages with high pitched battles. Some will be won, many will be lost, especially given the state government union legislation that has bagun to ban collective bargaining. The workers will lose more than in the 1980 decade, when 10% and 12% salary gains were commonplace. The corporations are supposely flush with these $2 trillion in cash on their balance sheets. Let's see how much are devoted to commodity investments in counter action to the USDollar debasement (not noticed by Deflationists) and how much are devoted to labor concessions under demand of work action (not expected by Deflationists). My preference would be for capital investment and factory revamps, but the United States and its newfound marxism blended with fascism and oppressive regulatory impositions is not a place conducive for corporate expansion. These are some of the dynamics underway, which are not detected by those with blind eyes. The Deflationists prefer to cling to shallow arguments of a move straight to deflation without all the intermediary steps that cannot comprehend.

Cash held by the people and investors and hedge funds pension funds and elsewhere is in a massive migration to hard assets. Physical goods & tangible assets are rising in price. Have Deflationists not noticed? Witness the burgeoning demand for USMint coins, resulting in shortages and production shutdowns across the world. Have Deflationists not noticed? Amplifying the USFed money output parade, the troubles in Egypt with associated threats to the Suez Canal, followed by troubles in Libya with interruptions to output, have all contributed to the movement of funds into hard assets like crude oil. Have Deflationists not noticed? As for buyers, right now the only (or primary) buyer for USTreasurys is the USFed itself. Plenty of global funds continue to chase crude oil, industrial metals, grains, farmlands, cotton, coffee, sugar, as well as the King Gold & Queen Silver. Have Deflationists not noticed? The interesting opportunities will continue to be offered for wealth accumulation in defense of the unspeakable abuses of money. These are the middle innings of opportunity when it is still legal to build and hold wealth. Those years might be nearing an end, unfortunately as we near open confiscation after hidden confiscation. The money to bid tangible assets skyward, my blind fools, is from the collective gaggle of central banks which are in a panic printing money without the controls to direct it where they wish. This is not a rant, but rather a directed rebuttal of a shallow discourse laden with blind spots, shallow arguments, and arrogance. Let us gaze at the fool with a blind eye in a purple robe sitting on a self-designed throne, with zero authority and a track record of major missed events.


Acute Silver shortages are in front of our noses, in the news, and point to extreme vulnerability in the USDollar, if not the USGovt debt condition. The USMint in possible illegal manner has at times suspended the production of Silver coins to be minted. They by law are commissioned to continue to meet public demand, which means they must bid up the Silver price if required. The COMEX shortage of Silver is so widespread and in the open, that futures contracts are being settled in cash, after the contract owner signs a waiver to permit the breach of contract itself. A 25% to 30% cash settlement bonus has become the norm. Such actions in policy have lit a fire under the Silver market and lifted its price. Angry from incessant charges of currency manipulation, the Chinese have responded by purchasing large truckloads of Gold & Silver. The real manipulation is by the USFed, whose debt monetization has gone global, whose USDollar effect is undeniable. That is blatant manipulation of not only the sovereign debt, but the currency denominated in it, extending to the entire monetary system. The group of major fiat currencies are all attached like a floating papyrus bound by threads. They are discredited in unison, weighed down by a debt burden and rotten paper.

The Euro is rising, despite its crippled condition. The ruse of a higher interest rate set by the Euro Central Bank is really amusing. Maybe they will come through with an inflation beater rate hike of a puny 25 basis points. How irrelevant? Both the US and EU have prevailing inflation rates over 8%. The cost of money remains 7% below the prevailing price inflation, maybe 12% too low for practical commerce. The appeal of the Euro comes from the totally obscene ruinous debased condition of the USDollar. The reverse beauty contest leaves the clownbuck as the gal left on stage seeking a dance partner. The toothless Euro at least has two dancing legs. The USDollar has none, nor teeth. The newest wrinkle in currency flows is the Arab investment in Euros, as they seek anything but USDollars. The US War Machine has targeted Libya, and turned its head from Bahrain. Just this week, Prince Turki of the House of Saud warned his princes that the Saudi Arabians must seek protection from other sources besides the United States. With the Saudis acknowledging security shortcomings, one must bring into focus the Petro-Dollar Standard, the defacto accord between the US and Saudi Arabia. They sell OPEC crude oil in US$ denomination only, and the USMilitary provides security protection for the royals in power as they accumulate great wealth. The accord is slowly disintegrating, with enormous potential impact to the USDollar standing. The US$ DX index is flirting with yet another breakdown below critical support. Each bounce off support is met by fresh selling. It seems military underpinning for the USDollar is slowly fading away like an old soldier after several decades.

The Gold breakout is clearly timid, lacking gusto and strong conviction. The Powerz have decided that they must contain the Gold price advance. The factors pushing up Gold are numerous. The sovereign debt decay process has led to lost integrity in the global monetary system organized as major currencies. They are all being debased by mammoth money printing initiatives with the full blessing of the governments and finance ministries. Each paper ambush led by naked shorting of the futures contract has resulted in a slingshot lift in Silver, a veritable nasty backfire in their faces. Those who cannot accept such a forecast of $100 Silver come from the same crowd that refused to believe last November that a $25 price would give way to a $40 price. But the Powerz cannot halt the powerful impressive advance of Silver, which will next take assault on the $50 mark. In two years, it will surpass the $100 mark, maybe sooner. The Gold price will make new highs in repeated fashion, and continue the upward movement, but it will be slow and steady toward the $2000 mark, inhibited the entire way. But Silver will be the impressive winner in the precious metals arena. At least one Silver substitute is already well over $1000 in price. That is the hint and clue of future price direction. Silver will take no prisoners while Gold shakes off its bondage. It has almost reached my $40 stated target, right on cue. One of the most profound changes that has come to the precious metals market is the shift, whereby price discovery has moved directly to the physical market. The paper futures market has been thoroughly corrupted.

The latest travesty is that JPMorgan is attempting to take delivery on a large portion of its short silver position. No misprint here. On their short position, that is, so that they can deliver it!! That is like making a demand to a credit card bank that the borrower intends to collect the debt from the creditor. Utterly absurd. That comedy is worth more to watch than the CFTC charade on position limits. The other profound change is that inflation expectations are being dictated by the Gold & Silver market, not the USTreasury Bonds any longer. The USFed Chairman has lost an enormous amount of credibility in his focus upon the long-term USTBond as an indication of price inflation expectations. The USGovt debt securities have lost their buyers. Not only is the USFed monetizing USTreasurys at a $100 billion clip per month, they are also purchasing the Treasury Inflation Protection Securities (TIPS). The TIPS are supposed to act as an inflation gauge. It too is corrupted.

A bigger fool than the Deflation Knuckleheads is the USFed Chairman Bernanke. He is a myopic professor who wrote a fine piece of revisionist history of the Great Depression, who now presides over a global monetary systemic collapse. Gold is reacting, but Silver reacts even more. As long as the insolvent big US banks remain in operation and are not liquidated, as long as toxic paper repositories rest under the USGovt roof, as long as the USGovt deficits remain well above $1 trillion annually, as long as Quantitative Easing legitimizes the debt monetization without checks, the GOLD PRICE WILL RISE INDEFINITELY. It is that simple.

3 March 2011

A Conspiracy With a Silver Lining By WILLIAM D. COHAN

As Americans know all too well by this point, commodity prices — for corn, wheat, soybeans, crude oil, gold and even farmland — have been going through the roof for what seems like forever. There are many causes, primarily supply and demand pressures driven by fears about the unrest in the Middle East, the rise of consumerism in China and India, and the Fed’s $600 billion campaign to increase the money supply.

Nonetheless, how to explain the price of silver? In the past six months, the value of the precious metal has increased nearly 80 percent, to more than $34 an ounce from around $19 an ounce. In the last month alone, its price has increased nearly 23 percent. This kind of price action in the silver market is reminiscent of the fortune-busting, roller-coaster ride enjoyed by the Hunt Brothers, Nelson Bunker and William Herbert, back in 1970s and early 1980s when they tried unsuccessfully to corner the market. When the Hunts started buying silver in 1973, the price of the metal was $1.95 an ounce. By early 1980, the brothers had driven the price up to $54 an ounce before the Federal Reserve intervened, changed the rules on speculative silver investments and the price plunged. The brothers later declared bankruptcy.
Accusations that JPMorganChase and HSBC allegedly manipulated precious metal markets are worth looking into.

The Hunts may be gone from the market, but there are still plenty of people suspicious about the trading in silver, and now they have the Web to explore and to expand their conspiracy narratives. This time around — according to bloggers and commenters on sites with names like Silverseek, 321Gold and Seeking Alpha — silver shot up in price after a whistleblower exposed an alleged conspiracy to keep the price artificially low despite the inflationary pressure of the Fed’s cheap money policy. (Some even suspect that the Fed itself was behind the effort to keep silver prices low, as a way to keep the dollar’s value artificially high.) Trying to unravel the mysterious rise in silver’s price is a conspiracy theorist’s dream, replete with powerful bankers, informants, suspicious car accidents and a now a squeeze on short sellers. Most intriguingly, however, much of the speculation seems highly plausible.

The gist goes something like this: When JPMorgan Chase bought Bear Stearns in March 2008, it inherited Bear Stearns’ large bet that the price of silver would fall. Over time, it added to that bet, and then the international bank HSBC got into the market heavily on the bear side as well. These actions “artificially depressed the price of silver dramatically downward,” according to a class-action lawsuit initiated by a Florida futures trader and filed against both banks in November in federal court in the Southern District of New York.

“The conspiracy and scheme was enormously successful, netting the defendants substantial illegal profits” in the billions of dollars between June 2008 and March 2010, according to the suit. The suit claims that JPMorgan and HSBC together “controlled over 85 percent the commercial net short positions” in silvers futures contracts at Comex, a Chicago-based exchange on which silver is traded, along with “25 percent of all open interest short positions” and a “a market share in excess of 9o percent of all precious metals derivative contracts, excluding gold.”

In the United States, trading in precious metals and other commodities is regulated and closely monitored by a federal agency, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. In September 2008, after receiving hundreds of complaints that silver future prices were being manipulated downward by JPMorgan and HSBC, the commission’s enforcement division started an investigation. In November 2009, an informant, described in the law suit only as a former employee of Goldman Sachs and a 40-year industry veteran, approached the commission with tales of how the silver traders at JPMorgan were bragging about all the money they were making “as a result of the manipulation,” which entailed “flooding the market” with “short positions” every time the price of silver started to creep upward. The idea was that by unloading its short positions like a time-released capsule, JPMorgan’s traders were keeping the price of silver artificially low.

Soon enough, the informant was identified as Andrew Maguire, an independent precious metals trader in London. On Jan. 26, 2010, Maguire sent Bart Chilton, a member of the futures trading commission, an e-mail urging him to look into the silver trading that day. “It was a good example of how a single seller, when they hold such a concentrated position in the very small silver market can instigate a sell off at will,” Maguire wrote.

On Feb. 3, 2010, Maguire gave the futures trading commission word about an impending “manipulation event” that he said would occur two days later, when the Labor Department’s non-farm payroll numbers would be released. He then spelled out two trading scenarios about which he had been told. “Both scenarios will spell an attempt by the two main short holders” — JPMorganChase and HSBC — “to illegally drive the market down and reap very large profits,” Maguire wrote in an e-mail to a trading-commission investigator.

On Feb. 5, Maguire took a victory lap, writing in another e-mail to the trading commission that “silver manipulation was a great success and played out EXACTLY to plan as predicted.” He added, “I hope you took note of how and who added the short sales (I certainly have a copy) and I am certain you will find it is the same concentrated shorts who have been in full control since JPM took over the Bear Stearns position … I feel sorry for all those not in this loop. A serious amount of money was made and lost today and in my opinion as a result of the CFTC’s allowing by your own definition an illegal concentrated and manipulative position to continue.”

In March 2010, Maguire released his e-mails publicly, in part because he felt the trading commission’s enforcement arm was not taking swift enough action. He was also unhappy over not being invited to a commission hearing on position limits scheduled for March 25. Then came the cloak and dagger element: the day after the hearing, Maguire was involved in a bizarre car accident in London. As he was at a gas station, a car came out of a side street and barreled into his car and two others; London police, using helicopters and chase cars, eventually nabbed the hit-and-run driver. Reports that the perpetrator was given a slap on the wrist inflamed the online crowds that had become captivated by Maguire’s odd story.

In any case, the class-action lawsuit contends that between March 2010 and November 2010, JPMorgan Chase and HSBC reduced their short positions in the silver market by 30 percent, causing the metal’s price to rise dramatically, but leaving them still with a large short position. Now, with the value of silver rising nearly every day, the two banks are caught in a “massive short squeeze,” according to one market participant, that appears to be costing them the billions they made originally plus billions more. Whether these huge losses will show up on the books of JPMorgan Chase and HSBC remains to be seen. (Parsing through the publicly filed footnotes of derivative trades is no easy task.)

Nonetheless, the conspiracy-minded have claimed that the Fed must have somehow agreed to make JPMorgan and HSBC whole for any losses the banks suffered if and when the price of silver rose above the artificially maintained low levels — as in right now, for instance. (About all this, a JPMorganChase spokesman declined to comment.)

Some two-and-a-half years later, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s investigation is still unresolved, and at least one commissioner — Bart Chilton — thinks that after interviewing more than 32 people and reviewing more than 40,000 documents, there has been enough investigating and not enough prosecuting. “More than two years ago, the agency began an investigation into silver markets,” Chilton said at a commission hearing last October. “I have been urging the agency to say something on the matter for months … I believe violations to the Commodity Exchange Act have taken place in silver markets and that any such violation of the law in this regard should be prosecuted.”

What’s more, Chilton said in an interview last week, that “one participant” in the silver market still controlled 35 percent of the silver market as recently as a few months ago, “enough to move prices,” he said, and well above the 10 percent “position limits” the commission has proposed to comply with Dodd-Frank financial reform law. Since that law’s passage last summer, the commodities exchanges have issued waivers permitting the ownership of silver positions above the limits the C.F.T.C. has proposed, and which were supposed to be in place by January of this year. Yet the waivers remain in place, and the big traders have not been penalized, much to Chilton’s frustration And the mystery deepens: last Thursday, the price of silver fell $1.50 per ounce in less than an hour before recovering. “This was robbery at its most obvious and most vindictive,” wrote Richard Guthrie, a London-based trader, in an e-mail to Chilton. “How many investors lost money and positions to the financial benefit of an elite few?”

It’s getting harder and harder to continue to brush off Andrew Maguire’s claims as the rantings of a rogue trader with a nutty online following. The Commodities Futures Trading Commission should immediately release the files from its investigation into the supposed manipulation of the silver market so the public can determine whether JPMorganChase and HSBC did anything illegal, with or without the help of the Fed. In addition, the commission should start enforcing the 10 percent threshold on silver positions it has proposed to comply with Dodd-Frank law. Basically, the other commissioners must join with Bart Chilton to do the job they are required to do: Protecting the sanctity of the markets and preventing the sorts of manipulation we’ve seen all too often.


19 February 2011

GEAB N°52 is available! Global systemic crisis / World geopolitical breakup – End of 2011: Fall of the “Petro-dollar wall” and a major monetary-oil sh

Gold and silver seemed to be responding to the stress....

With this issue our team is celebrating two important anniversaries in anticipation terms. Exactly five years ago, in February 2006, the GEAB N°2 suddenly encountered worldwide success by announcing the next "Triggering of a major global crisis" characterized especially by "The end of the West as we have known it since 1945”. And exactly two years ago, in February 2009, in the GEAB N°32, LEAP/E2020 anticipated the start of global geopolitical dislocation phase by the end of that same year. In both cases, it is important to note that the undeniable interest aroused by these anticipations at international level, measurable particularly by millions of people reading the related public announcements, has been matched only by mainstream media silence over these same analyses and the fierce opposition (on the internet) of the vast majority of economic, financial or geopolitical experts and specialists.

Official unemployment rates (12/2010) – Source: BMGBullion, 01/2011
However, in early 2011, most of the world has no doubt that we are engaged in a process of historic proportions which is seeing the world after 1945 collapse before our eyes, the US in the lead, while the international community breaks down a little more each day, like the social and economic fabric of most countries in the world (1). But the current evidence didn’t, of course, prevent “decision-makers and experts” (2) to be sure in 2006 that there was no risk of a serious crisis on the horizon and, in 2009, that it was absurd to imagine the slightest risk of breakdown in the existing world order, let alone the social order. Alas, today, the elite’s intellectual capacity to cope with the changes currently taking place doesn’t seem to have improved since the same “decision-makers and experts” never imagined it possible just two months ago that Tunisia and then Egypt would shortly see their regimes overthrown. Blind governments and international institutions (3), outdated experts and media (4) ... the Western elite and their clones in different regions of the world continue to sink in the “holzweg” of history, those forest trails that lead nowhere, or more precisely as Heidegger pointed out, that lead somewhere only if you have the humility to be constantly listening to the forest and its signals (5).

However, whilst the signals become real warning sirens, our elite seem to have decided to do anything and everything to ignore them. Take a very recent example: the comparison of events affecting the Arab world with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Our team has been very interested to note that this image which we have used since 2006 to help understand the ongoing process of the disintegration of US power, has now blithely been taken up by the political leaders (led by Angela Merkel (6)) and experts of all kinds. Yet today, even those who make this comparison abstain from continuing their intellectual journey to the end, until it leads to an understanding of the dynamics of events. They settle for describing, without analyzing.

Yet this "wall" which is collapsing has been built by someone, or something, and for a specific purpose. The "Berlin Wall" was built by the East German government in the broader context of the "Iron Curtain", which the USSR wanted in order to separate the Communist bloc from the West as tightly as possible. And it was mainly to avoid any questioning of the power held by the single party in each communist country to perpetuate Moscow’s control of the East European countries; in return, Moscow guaranteed full support and stipends of all kinds to the leaders of Eastern European countries. The fall of the "Berlin Wall", challenging these monopolies of power and therefore the purposes that they served, thus caused, in a few short months, the successive fall of all the Eastern European communist regimes, ending two years later with the dissolution of the USSR and the end of seventy years absolute power of the Russian Communist Party.

Unemployment rate in the Arab world and Iran - Source: Le Temps, 02/11/2011
So if it's also a "wall" that’s falling before our eyes in the Arab world, in order to hope to anticipate the subsequent events it is essential to be able to answer these questions: who built it? for what purpose? And the answers are not that difficult to find for those who don’t watch the news with ideological blinkers:

. this "wall" was built by each Arab dictator (or regime) of the region to ensure their continued monopoly on the power and wealth of the country, avoiding any calling into question of their single party or dynastic legitimacy (for the kingdoms). In this sense, there is very little difference between the cliques in power in the Arab countries and those which led the communist countries.

. this "wall" was part of the broader system set up by Washington to preserve their preferential access (in US Dollars) to the region's oil resources and protect Israel’s interests. The forced integration of the military and security apparatus of these countries (except Syria and Libya) with the US defence system ensures (ensured) unwavering US support and allows (allowed) the Arab leaders involved to receive all kinds of stipends without being called into question by internal or external forces.

So, in thinking a little more about her comparison with the fall of the Berlin Wall during the Munich Security Conference, the German Chancellor could have turned to her neighbour in the discussion, the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and asked her: "Don’t you think that current events in Tunisia and Egypt are the early signs of the fall of all the regimes that depend on Washington for their survival? And that, in particular, they can lead to a rapid collapse of the system supplying oil to the United States set up decades ago? And thus the global system for oil billing and the central role of the Dollar here (7) ? Whilst the Munich Security Conference audience would have suddenly realized that they were finally discussing something serious (8), Angela Merkel could have added: "What about Israel? Don’t you think that this fall of the "wall" will involve the need to reconsider the entire US-Israeli policy in the region very quickly (9) ? And then miraculously, the Munich Security Conference would have regained a foothold in the XXIst century and the Euro-American debate could recharge its batteries in the real world instead of rambling in the transatlantic virtual world and the fight against terrorism.

Sadly, as we all know, this exchange didn’t take place. And the ramblings of our leaders are, therefore, likely to continue with the effect of accentuating the shocks of 2011 and its ruthlessness as GEAB No. 51 anticipated.

Annual relative performance of 40 asset classes (in %, expressed in USD) (in green: profit / in red: loss) - Source: Chris Martenson, 02/04/2011
Yet LEAP/E2020 is convinced that the current events in the Arab world, of which we had correctly anticipated the mechanics, are above all the regional translation of fundamental trends of the global systemic crisis, and in particular global geopolitical dislocation (10). As such, they are evidence of major shocks in the coming quarters. We consider, in particular, that the end of 2011 will be marked by what our team calls the "Fall of the petro-dollar Wall" (11) that will immediately generate a major monetary-oil shock for the United States. It is also one of the main topics of this issue with the broader anticipation of more developments in the Arab world (including an accurate country risk indicator for the region). Also, our team analyzes the current acceleration of the Eurozone emergence process and its implications for the Euro and the situation in Europe. Finally, we give our recommendations regarding all these events.


20 January 2011

GEAB N°51 is available! Systemic global crisis - 2011: The ruthless year, at the crossroads of three roads of global chaos

This GEAB issue marks the fifth anniversary of the publication of the Global Europe Anticipation Bulletin. In January 2006, on the occasion of the first issue, the LEAP/E2020 team indicated that a period of four to seven years was opening up which would be characterized by the “Fall of the Dollar Wall”, an event similar to the fall of the Berlin Wall which resulted, in the following years, in the collapse of the communist bloc then that of the USSR. Today, in this GEAB issue, which presents our thirty-two anticipations for 2011, we believe that the coming year will be a pivotal year in the roll out of this process between 2010 and 2013. It will be, in any case, a ruthless year because it will mark the entry into the terminal phase of the world before the crisis (1).

Since September 2008, when the evidence of the global and systemic nature of the crisis became clear to all, the United States, and behind it the Western countries, were content with palliative measures that have merely hidden the undermining effects of the crisis on the foundations of the present-day international system. 2011 will, according to our team, mark the crucial moment when, on the one hand, these palliative measures see their anesthetic effect fade away whilst, in contrast, the consequences of systemic dislocation in recent years will dramatically surge to the forefront (2).

In summary, 2011 will be marked by a series of violent shocks that will explode the faulty safety devices put in place since 2008 (3) and will carry off, one by one, the “pillars” on which the “Dollar Wall” has rested for decades. Only the countries, communities, organizations and individuals which, over the last three years, have actually undertaken to learn the lessons from the current crisis to distance themselves as quickly as possible from the pre-crisis patterns, values and behavior will get through this year unscathed; the others will be carried away in the procession of monetary, financial, economic, social and political difficulties that 2011 holds.

Thus, as we believe that 2011 will, globally, be the most chaotic year since 2006, the date of the beginning of our work on the crisis, in this GEAB issue our team has focused on 32 anticipations for 2011, which also include a number of recommendations to deal with future shocks. Thus, this GEAB issue offers a kind of map forecasting financial, monetary, political, economic and social shocks for the next twelve months.

If our team believes that 2011 will be the worst year since 2006, the beginning of our anticipation work on the systemic crisis, it’s because it’s at the crossroads of three paths to global chaos. Absent fundamental treatment of the causes of the crisis, since 2008 the world has only gone back to take a better jump forward.

A bloodless international system
The first path that the crisis can take to cause world chaos is simply a violent and unpredictable shock. The dilapidated state of the international system is now so advanced that its cohesion is at the mercy of any large-scale disaster (4). Just look at the inability of the international community to effectively help Haiti over the past year (5), the United States to rebuild New Orleans for six years, the United Nations to resolve the problems in Darfur, Côte d'Ivoire for a decade, the United States to progress peace in the Middle East, NATO to beat the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Security Council to control the Korean and Iranian issues, the West to stabilize Lebanon, the G20 to end the global crisis be it financial, food, economic, social, monetary, ... to see that over the whole range of climatic and humanitarian disasters, like economic and social crises, the international system is now powerless.

In fact, since the mid-2000s at least, all the major global players, at their head of course the United States and its cortege of Western countries, do no more than give out information, or gesticulate. In reality, all bets are off: The crisis ball rolls and everyone holds their breath so it doesn’t fall on their square. But gradually the increasing risks and issues of the crisis have changed the casino’s roulette wheel into Russian roulette. For LEAP/E2020, the whole world has begun to play Russian roulette (6), or rather its 2011 version, “American Roulette” with five bullets in the barrel.

Monthly progression of the FAO food index (2010) and the price of principal foodstuffs (2009/2010) (base 100: averaged over 2002-2004) - Source: FAO/Crikey, 01/2011
Soaring commodity prices (food, energy (7),...) should remind us of 2008 (8). It was indeed in the six months preceding Lehman Brothers and Wall Street’s collapse that the previous episode of sharp increases in commodity prices was set. And the actual causes are the same as before: a flight from financial and monetary assets in favour of “concrete” investments. Last time the big players fled the mortgage market and everything that depended on it, as well as the U.S. Dollar; today they are fleeing all financial stocks, Treasury bonds (9) and other public debts. Therefore, we have to wait for a time between Spring and Autumn 2011 for the explosion of the quadruple bubble of Treasury bonds, public debt (10), bank balance sheets (11) and real estate (American, Chinese, British, Spanish,... and commercial (12)), all taking place against a backdrop of a heightened currency war (13).

The inflation induced by US, British and Japanese Quantitative Easing and similar stimulus measures of the Europeans and Chinese will be one of the destabilizing factors in 2011 (14). We will come back to this in more detail in this issue. But what is now clear with respect to what is happening in Tunisia (15), is that this global context, especially the rise in food and energy prices, now leads on to radical social and political shocks (16). The other reality that the Tunisian case reveals is the impotence of the French, Italian or American “godfathers” to prevent the collapse of a “friendly regime” (17).

Impotence of the major global geopolitical players
And this impotence of the major global geopolitical players is the other path that the crisis can use to produce world chaos in 2011. In effect, one can place the major G20 powers in two groups whose only point in common is that they are unable to influence events decisively.

On one side we haves a moribund West with, on the one hand, the United States, for whom 2011 will show that its leadership is no more than fiction (see this issue) and which is trying to freeze the entire international system in its configuration of the early 2000s (18), and on the other hand we have Euroland, “sovereign” in the pipeline, which is currently mainly focused on adapting to its new environment (19) and new status as an emerging geopolitical entity (20), and which, therefore, has neither the energy nor the vision necessary to influence world events (21).

And on the other side are the BRIC countries (with China and Russia in particular) who are, at the moment, proving to be incapable of taking control of all or part of the international system and whose only action is therefore limited to quietly undermine what remains of the foundations of the pre-crisis order (22).

Ultimately, impotence is widespread (23) at the international community level, increasing not only the risk of major shocks, but also the significance of the consequences of these shocks. The world of 2008 was taken by surprise by the violent impact of the crisis, but paradoxically the international system was better equipped to respond being organized around an undisputed leader (24). In 2011, this is no longer the case: not only is there no undisputed leader, but the system is bloodless as we have seen above. And the situation is aggravated further by the fact that the societies of many countries in the world are on the verge of socio-economic break-up.

US petrol prices (2009-2011) - Source: GasBuddy, 01/2011

Societies on the edge of socio-economic break-up
This is particularly the case in the United States and Europe where three years of crisis are beginning to weigh very heavily on the socio-economic and therefore political balance. US households, now insolvent in their tens of millions, oscillate between sustained poverty (25) and rage against the system. European citizens, trapped between unemployment and the dismantling of the welfare state (26), are starting to refuse to pay the bills for financial and budget crises and are beginning to look for culprits (banks, the Euro, government political parties…).

But amongst the emerging powers too, the violent transition which constitutes the crisis is leading societies towards situations of break-up: in China, the need to control expanding financial bubbles is hampered by the desire to improve the lot of whole sectors of society such as the need for employment for tens of millions of casual workers; in Russia, the weakness of the social security system fits badly with the enrichment of the elite, just as in Algeria shaken by riots. In Turkey, Brazil and India, everywhere the rapid change these countries are seeing is triggering riots, protests and terrorist attacks. For reasons that are sometimes contradictory, growth for some, penury for others, across the globe our diverse societies tackle 2011 in a context of strong tensions and socio-economic break-up, which have the making of political time bombs.

It’s its position at the crossroads of three paths which thus makes 2011 a ruthless year. And ruthless it will be for the States (and local authorities) which have chosen not to draw hard conclusions from the three years of crisis which have gone before and / or who have contented themselves with cosmetic changes not altering their fundamental imbalances at all. It will also be so for businesses (and States (27)) who believed that the improvement in 2010 was a sign of a return to “normal” of the global economy. And finally it will be so for investors who have not understood that yesterday’s investments (securities, currencies,...) couldn’t be those of tomorrow (in any case for several years). History is usually a “good girl”. She often gives a warning shot before sweeping away the past. This time, it gave the warning shot in 2008. We estimate that in 2011, it will do the sweeping. Only players who have undertaken, even painstakingly, even partially, to adapt to the new conditions generated by the crisis will be able to hang on; for the others, chaos is at the end of the road.


(1) Or of the world that we have known since 1945 to repeat our 2006 description.

(2) The recent decision by the US Department of Labor to extend the inclusion of the measure of long-term unemployment in the US employment statistics to five years instead of the maximum of two years until now, is a good indicator of the entry into a new stage of the crisis, a step that has seen the disappearance of the “practices” of the world before. As a matter of fact, the US government cites “the unprecedented rise” of long-term unemployment to justify this decision. Source: The Hill, 12/28/2010

(3) These measures (monetary, financial, economic, budgetary, strategic) are now closely linked. That’s why they will be carried away in a series of successive shocks.

(4) Source: The Independent, 01/13/2011

(5) It’s even worse because it was international aid that brought cholera to the island, causing thousands of deaths.

(6) Moreover Timothy Geithner, US Treasury Secretary, little known for his overactive imagination, has just indicated that “the US government could once again have to do exceptional things”, referring to the bank bailout in 2008. Source: MarketWatch, 01/13/2011

(7) Moreover, India and Iran are in the course of establishing a system of exchange “gold for oil” to try and avoid supply disruptions. Source: Times of India, 01/08/2011

(8) In January 2011 the FAO food price index (at 215) has just exceeded its previous record set in May 2008 (at 214).

(9) Wall Street banks are currently unloading their US Treasury bonds as fast as possible (unseen since 2004). Their official explanation is “the remarkable improvement in the US economy which no longer requires us to seek refuge in Treasury Bonds”. Of course, you are free to believe it, like Bloomberg ’s journalist on 01/10/2011.

(10) Thus Euroland is already taking big steps forward along the path described in the GEAB N°50 with a discount in the case of refinancing the debts of a member state, whilst Japanese and US debt are now about to enter the storm. Sources: Bloomberg, 01/07/2011; Telegraph, 01/05/2011

(11) We believe that, in general, global banks’ balance sheets contain at least 50% ghost assets which in the coming year will require to be discounted by between 20% to 40% due to the return of the global recession combined with austerity, the rise in defaults on household, business, community and state loans, currency wars and a pickup in the fall of real estate prices. The American, European, Chinese, Japanese and others “stress-tests” can still continue to try and reassure markets with “Care Bears” scenarios except that this year it’s “Alien against Predator ” which is on the banks’ agenda. Source: Forbes, 01/12/2011

(12) Each of these real estate markets will fall sharply again in 2011 in the case of those which have already started falling in recent years, or in the case of China, which will begin its sharp deflation amid economic slowdown and monetary tightening.

(13) The Japanese economy is, moreover, one of the first victims of this currency war, with 76% of the CEOs of 110 major Japanese companies surveyed by Kyodo News now reported being pessimistic about Japanese growth in 2011 following the rise in the yen. Source: JapanTimes, 01/04/2011

(14) Here are several instructive examples put together by the excellent John Rubino. Source: DollarCollapse, 01/08/2011

(15) By way of reminder, in the GEAB N°48 we had classified Tunisia in the category of countries “with significant risks” in 2011.

(16) No doubt, moreover, that the Tunisian example is generating a round of reassessment amongst the rating agencies and the “experts in geopolitics”, who, as usual, didn’t see anything coming. The Tunisian case also illustrates the fact that it’s now the satellite countries of the West in general and the US in particular, who are on the way to shocks in 2011 and in the years to come. And it confirms what we regularly repeat: a crisis accelerates all the historical processes. The Ben Ali regime, twenty-three years old, collapsed in a few weeks. When political obsolescence is involved everything changes quickly. Now it's all the pro-Western Arab regimes which are obsolete in the light of events in Tunisia.

(17) No doubt this « Western godfather » paralysis will be carefully analyzed in Rabat, Cairo, Jeddah and Amman, for example.

(18) A configuration that was all the more favorable because it was without a counterweight to their influence.

(19) We will return in more detail in this GEAB issue, but seen from China we are not mistaken. Source: Xinhua, 01/02/2011

(20) Little by little Europeans are discovering that they are dependent on centres of power other than Washington. Beijing, Moscow, Brazilia, New Dehli,… Source: La Tribune, 01/05/2011; Libération, 12/24/2010; El Pais, 01/05/2011

(21) All Japan's energy is focused on its desperate attempt to resist the attraction of China. As for other Western countries, they are not able to significantly influence global trends.

(22) The US Dollar’s place in the global system is a part of these last foundations that the BRIC countries are actively eroding day after day.

(23) As regards deficit, the US case is textbook. Beyond the speeches, everything continues as before the crisis with a deficit swelling exponentially. However, even the IMF is now ringing the alarm. Source: Reuters, 01/08/2011

(24) Moreover, even the Wall Street Journal on 01/12/2011, echoing the Davos Forum, is concerned over the lack of international coordination, which is in itself a major risk to the global economy.

(25) Millions of Americans are discovering food banks for the first time in their lives, whilst in California, as in many other states, the education system is disintegrating fast. In Illinois, studies on the state deficit are now comparing it to the Titanic. 2010 broke the record for real estate foreclosures. Sources: Alternet, 12/27/2010; CNN, 01/08/2011; IGPA-Illinois, 01/2011; LADailyNews, 01/13/2011

(26) Ireland, which is facing, purely and simply, a reconstruction of its economy, is a good example of situations to come. But even Germany, with remarkable current economic results however can’t escape this development as shown by the funding crisis for cultural activities. Whilst in the United Kingdom, millions of retirees are seeing their incomes cut for the third year running. Sources : Irish Times, 12/31/2010; Deutsche Welle, 01/03/2011; Telegraph, 01/13/2011

(27) In this regard, US leaders confirm that they are rushing straight into the wall of public debt, failing to anticipate the problems. Indeed, the recent statement by Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, that the Fed will not help the States (30% fall in 2009 tax revenues according to the Washington Post on 01/05/2011) and the cities collapsing under their debts, just as Congress decides to stop issuing “Build America Bonds” which enabled States to avoid bankruptcy these last few years, shows a Washington blindness only equal to that which Washington demonstrated in 2007/2008 in the face of the mounting consequences of the “subprime” crisis. Sources: Bloomberg, 01/07/2011; WashingtonBlog, 01/13/2011

Dimanche 16 Janvier 2011