Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cut Trading Risk and Increase Reward with a Strategy I Know You're not Using

"Amazing insights...THANKS!"

"Whoa, completely changed my mindset on ETFs"

Those are two quotes from people who watched John Carter's latest video on trading options on ETFs: John's Favorite Ways to Trade Options On ETFs

He shows you how his strategy allows you to cut risk, increase rewards, and grow your account [of any size we might add] using options on ETFs.

Don't worry...it's VERY clear and easy to apply (Watch Video)

John also shows you....

   *  Why trading options on ETFs cuts your risk so you can sleep at night

   *  How you can profit with ETFs from the unexpected move in the dollar

   *  Why you avoid the games high frequency traders play by trading ETFs

   *  Why most analysts have the next move in the dollar wrong and how to protect your investments

   *  What are some of the markets that will be impacted by the dollars next move

This is crucial information that I highly recommend you take the time to review...it's FREE after all.

Stream the video HERE

See you in the markets putting this to work,
Ray C. Parrish
aka The Crude Oil Trader


Get our latest FREE eBook "Understanding Options"....Just Click Here!


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Breakfast with a Lord of War

By David Galland, Partner, Casey Research

For reasons that will become apparent as you read the following article, I was quite reluctant to write it.
Yet, in the end, I decided to do so for a couple of reasons.

The first is that it ties into Marin Katusa’s best selling new book, The Colder War, which I read cover to cover over two days and can recommend warmly and without hesitation. I know that Casey Research has been promoting the book aggressively (in my view, a bit too aggressively), but I exaggerate not at all when I tell you that the book sucked me in from the very beginning and kept me reading right to the end.

The second reason, however, is that I have a story to tell. It’s a true story and one, I believe, which needs to be told. It has to do with a breakfast I had four years ago with a Lord of War.

With that introduction, we begin.

Breakfast with a Lord of War

In late 2010, I was invited to a private breakfast meeting with an individual near the apex of the U.S. military’s strategic planning pyramid. Specifically, the individual we were to breakfast with sits at the side of the long serving head of the department in the Pentagon responsible for identifying and assessing potential threats to national security and devising long term strategies to counter those threats.

The ground rules for the discussion—that certain topics were off limits—were set right up front. Yet, as we warmed up to each other over the course of our meal, the conversation went into directions even I couldn’t have anticipated.

In an earlier mention of this meeting in a Casey Daily Dispatch, I steered clear of much of what was discussed because frankly, it made me nervous. With the passage of time and upon reflection that it was up to my breakfast companion, who spends long days cloaked in secrecy, to know what is allowed in daylight, I have decided to share the entire story.

During our discussion, there were four key revelations, each a bit scarier than the last.

Four Key Revelations


Once we had bonded a bit, the military officer, dressed in his civvies for the meeting, began opening up. As I didn’t record the discussion, the dialogue that follows can only be an approximation. That said, I assure you it is accurate in all the important aspects.

“Which country or countries most concern you?” I asked, not sure if I would get an answer. “China?”
“Well, I’m not going to say too much, but it’s not China. Our analysis tells us the country is too fractured to be a threat. Too many different ethnic and religious groups and competing political factions. So no, it’s not China. Russia, on the other hand…” He left it at that, though Russia would come up again in our conversation on several occasions.

As breakfast was served, the conversation meandered here and there before he volunteered, “There are a couple of things I can discuss that we are working on, one of which won’t surprise you, and one that will.”
“The first is precision guided weaponry.” Simply, the airplane and drone launched weaponry that is deployed so frequently today, four years after our breakfast conversation, that it now barely rates a back-page mention.

“The second,” he continued,” will surprise you. It’s nuclear armaments.”

“Really? I can’t imagine the US would ever consider using nuclear weapons again. Seriously?”

“Yes, there could be instances when using nukes might be advisable,” he answered. “For example, no one would argue that dropping atomic bombs on Japan had been a bad thing.” (I, for one, could have made that argument, but in the interest of harmony didn’t.)

“Even so, I can’t imagine a scenario that would warrant using nukes,” I persisted. “Are there any other countries doing the same sort of research?”

“Absolutely. For example, the Russians would love to drop a bomb that wiped out the people of Chechnya but left the infrastructure intact.”

“So, neutron bombs?”

“Yeah, stuff like that,” he added before turning back to his coffee.

“Okay, well,” I continued, “you at least have to admit that, unlike last century when hundreds of millions of people died directly or indirectly in world wars, pogroms, and so forth—most related to governments—the human race has evolved to the point where death on that scale is a thing of the past. Right?”

I kid you not in the slightest, but at this question the handsome, friendly countenance I had been sitting across from morphed as if literally a mask had been lifted away and was replaced with the emotionless face of a Lord of War.

“That would be a very poor assumption,” he answered coldly before the mask went back on.

I recall a number of thoughts and emotions coursing through my brain at his reply, most prevalently relief that I had moved with my family to La Estancia de Cafayate in a remote corner of Argentina. We didn’t move there to escape war, but after this conversation, I added that to my short list of reasons why the move had been a good idea.

Recapping the conversation later, my associate and I concurred that Russia was in the crosshairs and that if push came to shove, the US was fully prepared to use the new nuclear weapons being worked on.

Four Years Later


As I write, four years after that conversation, it’s worth revisiting just what has transpired.

First, as mentioned, the use of precision-guided weaponry has now firmly entered the vernacular of US warmaking. Point of fact: there are now more pilots being trained to fly drones than airplanes. And the technology has reached the point where there is literally no corner on earth where a strategic hit couldn’t be made. Even more concerning, the political and legal framework that previously caused hesitation before striking against citizens of other countries (outside of an active war zone) has largely been erased. Today Pakistan, tomorrow the world?

Second, instead of winding back the US nuclear program—a firm plank in President Obama’s campaign platform—the Nobel Prize winner and his team have indeed been ramping up and modernizing the US nuclear arsenal. The following is an excerpt from a September 21, 2014 article in the New York Times, titled “U.S. Ramping Up Major Renewal in Nuclear Arms”…,,

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A sprawling new plant here in a former soybean field makes the mechanical guts of America’s atomic warheads. Bigger than the Pentagon, full of futuristic gear and thousands of workers, the plant, dedicated last month, modernizes the aging weapons that the United States can fire from missiles, bombers and submarines.

It is part of a nationwide wave of atomic revitalization that includes plans for a new generation of weapon carriers. A recent federal study put the collective price tag, over the next three decades, at up to a trillion dollars.

Third, the events unfolding in Ukraine, where the US was caught red handed engineering the regime change that destabilized the country and forced Russia to act, show a clear intent to set the world against Putin’s Russia and in time, neutralize Russia as a strategic threat.

So the only revelation from my breakfast four years ago remaining to be confirmed is for the next big war to envelope the world. Per the events in Ukraine, the foundations of that war have likely already been set. Before I get to that, however, a quick but relevant detour is required.

The Nature of Complex Systems


Last week the semiannual Owner’s & Guests event took place here at La Estancia de Cafayate. As part of the weeklong gathering, a conference was held featuring residents speaking on topics they are experts on.
Among those residents is a nuclear-energy engineer who spoke on the fragility of the US power grid, the most complex energy transmission system in the world.
He went into great detail about the “defense-in-depth” controls, backups, and overrides built into the system to ensure the grid won’t—in fact, can’t—fail. Yet periodically, it still does.

How? First and foremost, the engineer explained, there is a fundamental principle that holds that the more complex a system is, the more likely it is to fail. As a consequence, despite thousands of very bright people armed with massive budgets and a clear mandate to keep the transmission lines humming, there is essentially nothing they can do to actually prevent some unforeseen, and unforeseeable, event from taking the whole complex system down.

Case in point: in 2003 one of the largest power outages in history occurred. 508 large power generators were knocked out, leaving 55 million people in North America without power for upward of 24 hours. The cause? A software defect in an alarm system in an Ohio control center.

I mention this in the context of this article because, as complex as the U.S. power grid is, it is nothing compared to the complexities involved with long-term military strategic planning. This complexity is the result of many factors, including:
  • The challenges of identifying potential adversaries and threats many years, even a decade or more, into the future.
  • New and evolving technologies. It is a truism that the military is always fighting the last war: by the time the military machine spins up to build and deploy a new technology, it is often already obsolete.
  • The entrenched bureaucracies, headed by mere mortals with strong biases. Today’s friend is tomorrow’s enemy and vice versa.
  • The unsteady influences of a political class always quick to react with policy shifts to the latest dire news or purported outrage.
  • The media, a constant source of hysteria making headlines masquerading as news. And let’s not overlook the media’s role as active agents of the entrenched bureaucratic interests. In one now largely forgotten case, Operation Mockingbird, the CIA actually infiltrated the major US media outlets, specifically to influence public opinion.

    All you need to do to understand the bureaucratic agenda is to take a casual glance at the “news” about current events such as those transpiring in the Ukraine.
  • And, most important, human nature. We humans are the ultimate complex system, prone to a literally infinite number of strong opinions, exaggerated fears, mental illnesses, passions, vices, self-destructive tendencies, and stupidity on a biblical scale.
The point is that the average person assumes the powers-that-be actually know what they are doing and would never lead us into disaster, but quoting my breakfast companion, that would be a very poor assumption.

Simply, while mass war on the level of the wholesale slaughter commonplace in the last century is unimaginable to most in the modern context, it is never more than the equivalent of a faulty alarm system away from occurring.

Those history buffs among you will confirm that up until about a week before World War I began, virtually no one in the public, the press, the political class, or even the military had any idea the shooting was about to start. And 99.9% of the people then living had no idea the war was about to begin until after the first shot was fired.

Back to the Present


It is a rare moment in one’s life when the bureaucratic curtain falls away long enough to reveal something approximating The Truth. In my opinion, that’s what I observed over breakfast four years ago. That, right or wrong, the proactive military strategy of the US had been turned toward Russia.
Knowing that and no more, one can only guess what actual measures have been planned and set into motion to defang the Russian bear.

Based on the evidence, however, the events in Ukraine appear to be a bold chess move on the bigger board… and to be fair, a pretty damn effective move at that. The problem for the US and its allies is that on the other side of the table is one Vladimir Putin, self made man, black belt judo master, and former KGB spy master.

And that’s just scratching the surface of this complicated and determined individual. One thing is for sure: if you had to pick your adversary in a global geopolitical contest, you’d probably pick him dead last.
Which brings me to a quick mention of The Colder War, Marin’s book, which was released yesterday.
I mentioned earlier that the book had sucked me in and kept me in pretty much straight through until I finished. One reason is that while you can tell Marin has a great deal of respect for Putin’s capabilities and strategic thinking, he doesn’t shy away from revealing the judo master’s dark side. As you will read (and find quoting to your friends, as I have), it is a very dark side.

But the story is so much bigger than that, and Marin does a very good job of explaining the increasingly hostile competition between the US and Russia and the seismic economic consequences that will affect us all as the “Colder War” heats up.

Before signing off for now, I want to add that it is not Marin’s contention that the Colder War will devolve into an actual shooting war. In my view, however, due to the complexities discussed above, you can’t dismiss a military confrontation, even one involving nukes. Every complex system ultimately fails, and the more the US pushes in on Putin’s Russia, the more likely such a failure is to occur.

I recommend Marin’s book, The Colder War; here is the link.

We’ll leave the lights on down here in Cafayate.

Casey Research partner David Galland lives in La Estancia de Cafayate (www.LaEst.com).
The article Breakfast with a Lord of War was originally published at casey research.com.


Watch our new video "How you can Profit with ETFs from the Unexpected Move in the Dollar"....Just Click Here!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Free Webinar: Why you Should Trade Options on ETFs

Our trading partner John Carter of Simpler Options is back with another one of his wildly popular free trading webinars. His focus this time is "Why you should trade Options on ETFs". John took the time to give us idea what he'll be walking us through step by step in this weeks webinar by producing this great video [just click here to watch]  that included how we can play the next big move in the dollar. A move that John predicts most traders will miss.

Just Click Here to get your Reserved Seat for the Webinar

This weeks webinar is Tuesday evening November 18th at 8 p.m. est

In this free webinar John Carter will discuss....

  *  Why trading options on ETFs are perfect for newbies, retirees, part time traders, and full time traders

  *  Why options on ETFs are safer than trading futures or forex while allowing you to hold on for bigger
       moves

  *  What ETFs should you trade options on and which ones should you avoid so you’re choosing the most
       consistent ETFs to trade

  *  The 5 reasons why you should learn how to trade options on ETFs and stabilize your trading account

  *  Why options on ETFs are ideal for small account traders who want to either safely grow their account
       or try for a home run trade

And much more….

Just click here to get your reserved space asap, John's classes always fill up and turn people away so sign up now and make sure you log in 10 minutes early so you don't lose your spot.

See you Tuesday evening!

Ray C. Parrish
aka the Crude Oil Trader


Here's a great primer for the webinar, watch John's FREE video he released this week....Just Click Here!


The Return of the Dollar

By John Mauldin


Two years ago, my friend Mohamed El-Erian and I were on the stage at my Strategic Investment Conference. Naturally we were discussing currencies in the global economy, and I asked him about currency wars. He smiled and said to me, “John, we don’t talk about currency wars in polite circles. More like currency disagreements” (or some word to that effect).

This week I note that he actually uses the words currency war in an essay he wrote for Project Syndicate:

Yet the benefits of the dollar’s rally are far from guaranteed, for both economic and financial reasons. While the US economy is more resilient and agile than its developed counterparts, it is not yet robust enough to be able to adjust smoothly to a significant shift in external demand to other countries. There is also the risk that, given the role of the ECB and the Bank of Japan in shaping their currencies’ performance, such a shift could be characterized as a “currency war” in the US Congress, prompting a retaliatory policy response.

This is a short treatise, but as usual with Mohamed’s writing, it’s very thought provoking. Definitely Outside the Box material.

And for a two-part Outside the Box I want to take the unusual step of including an op-ed piece that you might not have seen, from the Wall Street Journal, called “How to Distort Income Inequality,” by Phil Gramm and Michael Solon. They cite research I’ve seen elsewhere which shows that the work by Thomas Piketty cherry-picks data and ignores total income and especially how taxes distort the data. That is not to say that income inequality does not exist and that we should not be cognizant and concerned, but we need to plan policy based on a firm grasp of reality and not overreact because of some fantasy world created by social provocateur academicians.

This weeks new video "How you can Profit from ETFs on the Unexpected Move in the Dollar".....Just Click Here

The calls for income redistribution from socialists and liberals based on Piketty’s work are clearly misguided and will further distort income inequality in ways that will only reduce total global productivity and growth.
I’m in New York today at an institutional fund manager conference where I had the privilege of hearing my good friend Ian Bremmer take us around the world on a geopolitical tour. Ian was refreshingly optimistic, or at least sanguine, about most of the world over the next few years. Lots of potential problems, of course, but he thinks everything should turn out fine – with the notable exception of Russia, where he is quite pessimistic.

A shirtless Vladimir Putin was the scariest thing on his geopolitical radar. As he spoke, Russia was clearly putting troops and arms into eastern Ukraine. Why would you do that if you didn’t intend to go further? Ian worried openly about Russia’s extending a land bridge all the way to Crimea and potentially even to Odessa, which is the heart of economic Ukraine, along with the Kiev region. It would basically make Ukraine ungovernable.

I thought Putin’s sadly grim and memorable line that “The United States is prepared to fight Russia to the last Ukrainian” pretty much sums up the potential for a US or NATO response. Putin agreed to a cease-fire and assumed that sanctions would start to be lifted. When there was no movement on sanctions, he pretty much went back to square one. He has clearly turned his economic attention towards China.

Both Ian Bremmer and Mohamed El Erian will be at my Strategic Investment Conference next year, which will again be in San Diego in the spring, April 28-30. Save the dates in your calendar as you do not want to miss what is setting up to be a very special conference. We will get more details to you soon.

It is a very pleasant day here in New York, and I was able to avoid taxis and put in about six miles of pleasant walking. (Sadly, it is supposed to turn cold tomorrow.) I’ve gotten used to getting around in cities and slipping into the flow of things, but there was a time when I felt like the country mouse coming to the city. As I walked past St. Bart’s today I was reminded of an occasion when your humble analyst nearly got himself in serious trouble.

There is a very pleasant little outdoor restaurant at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, across the street from the side entrance of the Waldorf-Astoria. It was a fabulous day in the spring, and I was having lunch with my good friend Barry Ritholtz. The president (George W.) was in town and staying at the Waldorf. His entourage pulled up and Barry pointed and said, “Look, there’s the president.”

We were at the edge of the restaurant, so I stood up to see if I could see George. The next thing I know, Barry’s hand is on my shoulder roughly pulling me back into my seat. “Sit down!” he barked. I was rather confused – what faux pas I had committed? Barry pointed to two rather menacing, dark-suited figures who were glaring at me from inside the restaurant.

“They were getting ready to shoot you, John! They had their hands inside their coats ready to pull guns. They thought you were going to do something to the president!”

This was New York not too long after 9/11. The memory is fresh even today. Now, I think I would know better than to stand up with the president coming out the side door across the street. But back then I was still just a country boy come to the big city.

Tomorrow night I will have dinner with Barry and Art Cashin and a few other friends at some restaurant which is supposedly famous for a mob shooting back in the day. Art will have stories, I am sure.
It is time to go sing for my supper, and I will try not to keep the guests from enjoying what promises to be a fabulous meal from celebrity chef Cyrille Allannic. After Ian’s speech, I think I will be nothing but sweetness and light, just a harmless economic entertainer. After all, what could possibly go really wrong with the global economy, when you’re being wined and dined at the top of New York? Have a great week.

John Mauldin, Editor
Outside the Box
subscribers@mauldineconomics.com

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The Return of the Dollar

By Mohamed El-Erian
Project Syndicate, Nov. 13, 2014

The U.S. dollar is on the move. In the last four months alone, it has soared by more than 7% compared with a basket of more than a dozen global currencies, and by even more against the euro and the Japanese yen. This dollar rally, the result of genuine economic progress and divergent policy developments, could contribute to the “rebalancing” that has long eluded the world economy. But that outcome is far from guaranteed, especially given the related risks of financial instability.

Two major factors are currently working in the dollar’s favor, particularly compared to the euro and the yen. First, the United States is consistently outperforming Europe and Japan in terms of economic growth and dynamism – and will likely continue to do so – owing not only to its economic flexibility and entrepreneurial energy, but also to its more decisive policy action since the start of the global financial crisis.

Second, after a period of alignment, the monetary policies of these three large and systemically important economies are diverging, taking the world economy from a multi-speed trajectory to a multi-track one. Indeed, whereas the US Federal Reserve terminated its large-scale securities purchases, known as “quantitative easing” (QE), last month, the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank recently announced the expansion of their monetary-stimulus programs. In fact, ECB President Mario Draghi signaled a willingness to expand his institution’s balance sheet by a massive €1 trillion ($1.25 trillion).

With higher US market interest rates attracting additional capital inflows and pushing the dollar even higher, the currency’s revaluation would appear to be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to catalyzing a long-awaited global rebalancing – one that promotes stronger growth and mitigates deflation risk in Europe and Japan. Specifically, an appreciating dollar improves the price competitiveness of European and Japanese companies in the US and other markets, while moderating some of the structural deflationary pressure in the lagging economies by causing import prices to rise.

Yet the benefits of the dollar’s rally are far from guaranteed, for both economic and financial reasons. While the US economy is more resilient and agile than its developed counterparts, it is not yet robust enough to be able to adjust smoothly to a significant shift in external demand to other countries. There is also the risk that, given the role of the ECB and the Bank of Japan in shaping their currencies’ performance, such a shift could be characterized as a “currency war” in the US Congress, prompting a retaliatory policy response.

Furthermore, sudden large currency moves tend to translate into financial-market instability. To be sure, this risk was more acute when a larger number of emerging-economy currencies were pegged to the U.S. dollar, which meant that a significant shift in the dollar’s value would weaken other countries’ balance of payments position and erode their international reserves, thereby undermining their creditworthiness. Today, many of these countries have adopted more flexible exchange-rate regimes, and quite a few retain adequate reserve holdings.

But a new issue risks bringing about a similarly problematic outcome: By repeatedly repressing financial-market volatility over the last few years, central-bank policies have inadvertently encouraged excessive risk-taking, which has pushed many financial-asset prices higher than economic fundamentals warrant. To the extent that continued currency-market volatility spills over into other markets – and it will – the imperative for stronger economic fundamentals to validate asset prices will intensify.

This is not to say that the currency re-alignment that is currently underway is necessarily a problematic development; on the contrary, it has the potential to boost the global economy by supporting the recovery of some of its most challenged components. But the only way to take advantage of the re-alignment’s benefits, without experiencing serious economic disruptions and financial-market volatility, is to introduce complementary growth-enhancing policy adjustments, such as accelerating structural reforms, balancing aggregate demand, and reducing or eliminating debt overhangs.

After all, global growth, at its current level, is inadequate for mere redistribution among countries to work. Overall global GDP needs to increase.

The US dollar’s resurgence, while promising, is only a first step. It is up to governments to ensure that the ongoing currency re-alignment supports a balanced, stable, and sustainable economic recovery. Otherwise, they may find themselves again in the unpleasant business of mitigating financial instability.

How to Distort Income Inequality

By Phil Gramm and Michael Solon
Wall Street Journal, Nov. 11, 2014

The Piketty-Saez data ignore changes in tax law and fail to count noncash compensation and Social Security benefits.

What the hockey-stick portrayal of global temperatures did in bringing a sense of crisis to the issue of global warming is now being replicated in the controversy over income inequality, thanks to a now-famous study by Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, professors of economics at the Paris School of Economics and the University of California, Berkeley, respectively. Whether the issue is climate change or income inequality, however, problems with the underlying data significantly distort the debate.

The chosen starting point for the most-quoted part of the Piketty-Saez study is 1979. In that year the inflation rate was 13.3%, interest rates were 15.5% and the poverty rate was rising, but economic misery was distributed more equally than in any year since. That misery led to the election of Ronald Reagan, whose economic policies helped usher in 25 years of lower interest rates, lower inflation and high economic growth. But Messrs. Piketty and Saez tell us it was also a period where the rich got richer, the poor got poorer and only a relatively small number of Americans benefited from the economic booms of the Reagan and Clinton years.

If that dark picture doesn’t sound like the country you lived in, that’s because it isn’t. The Piketty-Saez study looked only at pretax cash market income. It did not take into account taxes. It left out noncash compensation such as employer-provided health insurance and pension contributions. It left out Social Security payments, Medicare and Medicaid benefits, and more than 100 other means-tested government programs. Realized capital gains were included, but not the first $500,000 from the sale of one’s home, which is tax-exempt. IRAs and 401(k)s were counted only when the money is taken out in retirement. Finally, the Piketty-Saez data are based on individual tax returns, which ignore, for any given household, the presence of multiple earners.

And now, thanks to a new study in the Southern Economic Journal, we know what the picture looks like when the missing data are filled in. Economists Philip Armour and Richard V. Burkhauser of Cornell University and Jeff Larrimore of Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation expanded the Piketty-Saez income measure using census data to account for all public and private in-kind benefits, taxes, Social Security payments and household size.

The result is dramatic. The bottom quintile of Americans experienced a 31% increase in income from 1979 to 2007 instead of a 33% decline that is found using a Piketty-Saez market-income measure alone. The income of the second quintile, often referred to as the working class, rose by 32%, not 0.7%. The income of the middle quintile, America’s middle class, increased by 37%, not 2.2%.

By omitting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the Piketty-Saez study renders most older Americans poor when in reality most have above-average incomes. The exclusion of benefits like employer-provided health insurance, retirement benefits (except when actually paid out in retirement) and capital gains on homes misses much of the income and wealth of middle- and upper-middle income families.

Messrs. Piketty and Saez also did not take into consideration the effect that tax policies have on how people report their incomes. This leads to major distortions. The bipartisan tax reform of 1986 lowered the highest personal tax rate to 28% from 50%, but the top corporate-tax rate was reduced only to 34%. There was, therefore, an incentive to restructure businesses from C-Corps to subchapter S corporations, limited liability corporations, partnerships and proprietorships, where the same income would now be taxed only once at a lower, personal rate. As businesses restructured, what had been corporate income poured into personal income-tax receipts.

So Messrs. Piketty and Saez report a 44% increase in the income earned by the top 1% in 1987 and 1988—though this change reflected how income was taxed, not how income had grown. This change in the structure of American businesses alone accounts for roughly one-third of what they portray as the growth in the income share earned by the top 1% of earners over the entire 1979-2012 period.

An equally extraordinary distortion in the data used to measure inequality (the Gini Coefficient) has been discovered by Cornell’s Mr. Burkhauser. In 1992 the Census Bureau changed the Current Population Survey to collect more in-depth data on high-income individuals. This change in survey technique alone, causing a one-time upward shift in the measured income of high-income individuals, is the source of almost 30% of the total growth of inequality in the U.S. since 1979.

Simple statistical errors in the data account for roughly one third of what is now claimed to be a “frightening” increase in income inequality. But the weakness of the case for redistribution does not end there. America is the freest and most dynamic society in history, and freedom and equality of outcome have never coexisted anywhere at any time. Here the innovator, the first mover, the talented and the persistent win out—producing large income inequality. The prizes are unequal because in our system consumers reward people for the value they add. Some can and do add extraordinary value, others can’t or don’t.

How exactly are we poorer because Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and the Walton family are so rich? Mr. Gates became rich by mainstreaming computer power into our lives and in the process made us better off. Mr. Buffett’s genius improves the efficiency of capital allocation and the whole economy benefits. Wal-Mart stretches our buying power and raises the living standards of millions of Americans, especially low-income earners. Rich people don’t “take” a large share of national income, they “bring” it. The beauty of our system is that everybody benefits from the value they bring.

Yes, income is 24% less equally distributed here than in the average of the other 34 member countries of the OECD. But OECD figures show that U.S. per capita GDP is 42% higher, household wealth is 210% higher and median disposable income is 42% higher. How many Americans would give up 42% of their income to see the rich get less?

Vast new fortunes were earned in the 25-year boom that began under Reagan and continued under Clinton. But the income of middle-class Americans rose significantly. These incomes have fallen during the Obama presidency, and not because the rich have gotten richer. They’ve fallen because bad federal policies have yielded the weakest recovery in the postwar history of America.

Yet even as the recovery continues to disappoint, the president increasingly turns to the politics of envy by demanding that the rich pay their “fair share.” The politics of envy may work here as it has worked so often in Latin America and Europe, but the economics of envy is failing in America as it has failed everywhere else.

Mr. Gramm, a former Republican senator from Texas, is a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Mr. Solon was a budget adviser to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and is a partner of US Policy Metrics.

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Important Disclosures

The article Outside the Box: The Return of the Dollar was originally published at mauldineconomics.com.


Get our latest FREE eBook "Understanding Options"....Just Click Here!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

So....Your nervous about trading overnight options trades? Don't be, and here's how!

You've seen us talking about a new Options strategy that John Carter was working on recently...and he is finally sharing it with us.

Video: My Favorite Way to Trade Options on ETFs

This strategy is the "sleep at night as you trade options" strategy. And we ALL need that!

Here's just a taste of what John shows you in this video:

*  Why trading options on ETFs cuts your risk so you can sleep at night

*  How you can profit with ETFs from the unexpected move in the dollar

*  Why you avoid the games high frequency traders play by trading ETFs

*  Why most analysts have the next move in the dollar wrong and how to protect your investments

*  What are some of the markets that will be impacted by the dollars next move

Here's the link to watch the video again

Enjoy the video,
Ray C. Parrish
aka the Crude Oil Trader


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Friday, November 14, 2014

The Looming Uranium Crisis: Strategic Implications for the Colder War

By Marin Katusa, Chief Energy Investment Strategist

In the wake of one singular event—the disaster at Fukushima in March 2011, the effects of which are still being felt today across the planet—nuclear power has seemingly fallen into utter disrepute, at least in the popular mind. But this is largely an illusion.

It’s true that Japan took all 52 of its nuclear plants offline after Fukushima and sold much of its uranium inventory. South Korea followed with shutdowns of its own. Germany permanently mothballed eight of its 17 reactors and pledged to close the rest by the end of 2022. Austria and Spain have enacted laws to cease construction on new nuclear power stations. Switzerland is phasing them out. A majority of the other European nations is also opposed.

All of this has resulted in a large decrease in demand for uranium, a glut of the fuel on the market, and a per-pound price that fell as low as $28.50 in mid-2014, down nearly 80% from its peak of $135 in 2007.

Currently, it’s languishing around $39 per pound, still below the cost of production for many miners—about 80% need prices above $40 to make any return on investment, and even at that level, no new mines will be built. It’s easy to hear a death knell for nuclear energy on the breeze. And that may well be the case for Europe (except for France). But Europe is hardly the world.

South Korean plants are back online. Japan is planning to restart its reactor fleet (despite a great deal of citizen protest) beginning in 2015. Russia is heavily invested, with nine plants under construction and 14 others planned. China, faced with unhealthy levels of air pollution in many of its cities due to coal power generation, is going all in on nuclear. 26 reactors are under construction, and the government has declared a goal of quadrupling present capacity—either in operation or being built—by 2020. India has 20 plants and is adding seven more. And in the rest of the developing nations, nuclear power is exploding.

Worldwide, no fewer than 71 new plants are under construction in more than a dozen countries, with another 163 planned and 329 proposed. Many countries without nuclear power soon will build their first reactors, including Turkey, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and several of the Gulf emirates.

For years, China, with its stunning GDP growth rate, has been seen as the leading destination for natural resources. “Produce what China needs” has been every supplier’s ongoing mantra. Yet, as many Americans fail to realize, it’s their own home that is the biggest uranium consumer. Despite having not opened a new plant since 1977 (though six additional units are scheduled to open by 2020), the US is the world’s #1 producer of nuclear energy, accounting for more than 30% of the global total. France is a distant second at 12%; China, playing catchup, sits at only 6% right now. The 65 American nuclear plants, housing just over 100 reactors, generate 20% of total US electricity.

Yet uranium is the one fuel for which there is very little domestic supply.


As you can see, the US has to import over 90% of what it uses. That’s a huge shortfall—and it’s persisted for many years. How has the country made it up?

In a word: Russia.

America’s former Cold War archenemy—and antagonist in the unfolding sequel, the Colder War—has in fact been keeping the US nuclear fires burning, through conduits like the Megatons to Megawatts Program.
When the USSR collapsed, Russia inherited over two million pounds of HEU—highly enriched uranium (the 90% U-235 needed to fashion a bomb)—and vast, underused facilities for handling and fabricating the material. Starting in 1993, it cut a deal with the US dubbed the Megatons to Megawatts Program. Over the 20 years that followed, 1.1 million pounds of Russian weapon-grade uranium, equivalent to about 20,000 nuclear warheads, was downblended to U3O8 and sold to the United States as fuel.

That source was very important in helping to fill the US supply gap for those two decades. It represented, on average, over 20 million pounds of annual uranium supply, or half of what the country consumed. I’m sure it would have come as a shock to most Americans if they’d realized that one in ten of their homes was being powered by former Soviet missiles.

Megatons to Megawatts expired in November 2013, but US dependence on Russia did not. Russia is easily able to maintain its sizeable export presence, due largely to present economics.

Because of all the uranium swamping the market since Fukushima, separative work units (SWUs) are trading at very low prices. SWUs measure the amount of separation work necessary to enrich uranium—in other words, how much work must be done to raise the product’s concentration of U-235 to the 3-5% that most reactors require for fission?

The tails that are left behind when U-235 is separated out to make warheads still contain some amount of the isotope, usually around 0.2% to 0.3%. When the price of SWUs gets low enough, it’s a condition known as “underfeeding,” meaning it’s worth the effort to go back and extract leftover U-235 from the tails. That’s done through the process of re-enrichment, the reverse of the procedure that creates HEU. It’s kind of like getting fresh gold from old ore that had already yielded the easy stuff.

After the Soviet Union broke up, Russia had a lot of enrichment capacity it no longer needed for its military program. And major uranium companies like Areva and Urenco had sent trainloads of enrichment tails to Russia in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Great stockpiles were built up, and they’ll be put to use until the pendulum swings the other way and we get “overfeeding,” where the price of SWUs makes re-enrichment too costly to continue. We will go from under- to overfeeding in the near future. Rising demand from the Japanese restart and new plants coming online ensures that it will happen, and probably within the next 24 months. The market is already anticipating it, with the per-pound price of uranium up more than 35% in the past few months. It’s going to double to $75… at the least.

Meanwhile, though, the ability to profitably produce fuel-grade uranium from tails confers on Russia a number of significant advantages. Among them:
  • It permits the country to exploit a previously worthless resource.
  • The more tails it can use as feedstock, the fewer it has to dispose of.
  • Most important, it means Russia can conserve much of its mineral supply for a future when higher prices will dramatically increase its leverage. That includes in-ground ore, of which it has a lot, and probably uranium picked up on the cheap when Japan did its massive post-Fukushima fuel dump (though it has never been officially confirmed who the buyers of Japan’s uranium supply were, I have some very connected sources who tell me it was the Russians who snapped most of it up).
This is one part of Vladimir Putin’s plan to dominate the world energy markets. In my book, The Colder War, I call it the “Putinization” of uranium.  And he has nicely positioned his country to pull it off.
In January 2014, Sergei Kiriyenko, head of Russian energy giant Rosatom, was bursting with enthusiasm when he predicted that Russia’s recent annual production rate of 6.5 million pounds of uranium would triple in 2015.

Rosatom puts Russia’s uranium reserves in the ground at 1.2 billion pounds of yellowcake, which would be the second largest in the world; the company is quite capable of mining 40 million pounds per year by 2020. Add in Russia’s foreign projects in Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Mongolia, and annual production in 2020 jumps to more than 63 million pounds. Include all of Russia’s sphere of influence, and annual production easily could amount to more than 140 million pounds six years from now.

No other country has a uranium mining plan nearly this ambitious. By 2020, Russia itself could be producing a third of all yellowcake. With just its close ally Kazakhstan chipping in another 25%, Russia would have effective control of more than half of world supply.

That’s clout. But it doesn’t end there.
Globally, there are a fair number of facilities for fabricating fuel rods. Not so with conversion plants (uranium oxide to uranium hexafluoride) or enrichment plants (isolating the U-235). And the world leader in conversion and enrichment is…. yes, Russia.

All told, Russia has one-third of all uranium conversion capacity. The United States is in second place with 18%. And Russia’s share is projected to rise, assuming Rosatom proceeds with a new conversion plant planned for 2015. Similarly, Russia owns 40% of the world’s enrichment capacity. Planned expansion of the existing facilities will push that share close to 50%.

That’s Putin’s goal—to corner the conversion and enrichment markets—because it wraps Russian hands around the chokepoints in the whole yellowcake to electricity progression. It’s a smart strategy, too—control those, and you control the availability and pricing of a product for which demand will be rising for decades.

And that control will tighten, because the barrier to entry for either function is very high. Building new conversion or enrichment facilities is too costly for most countries, and it is especially difficult in the West due to the influence of environmentalists.

It’s worth reiterating. Russia is on track to control 58% of global yellowcake production; currently responsible for a third of yellowcake-to-uranium-hexafluoride conversion; and soon to hold half of all global enrichment capacity.

There’s a word for this: stranglehold.

That is what Putin and Russia will have on the supply chain for nuclear fuel in a world where new atomic power plants are being constructed at warp speed, which will force the price of uranium ever higher. It will give Russia enormous global influence and great leverage in all future dealings with the US America can mine some uranium domestically and buy some more from its Canadian ally. But even taken together, those sources put only a small patch on the supply gap.

The US government would do well to make peace with Putin, if it can, because the domestic nuclear power industry—and by extension the economic health of the country—is at the mercy of Russia, indefinitely.
To get the full story, click here to order your copy of my new book, The Colder War.

Inside, you’ll discover more on how Putin has cornered the market on Uranium, and how he’s making a big play to control the world's oil and natural gas markets. You’ll also glimpse his endgame and how it will personally affect millions of investors and the lives of nearly every American.



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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Paper Gold and Its Effect on the Gold Price

By Bud Conrad, Chief Economist

Gold dropped to new lows of $1,130 per ounce last week. This is surprising because it doesn’t square with the fundamentals. China and India continue to exert strong demand on gold, and interest in bullion coins remains high.

I explained in my October article in The Casey Report that the Comex futures market structure allows a few big banks to supply gold to keep its price contained. I call the gold futures market the “paper gold” market because very little gold actually changes hands. $360 billion of paper gold is traded per month, but only $279 million of physical gold is delivered. That’s a 1,000-to-1 ratio:

Market Statistics for the 100-oz Gold Futures Contract on Comex
Value ($M)
Monthly volume (Paper Trade) $360,000
Open Interest All Contracts $45,600
Warehouse-Registered Gold (oz) $1,140
Physical Delivery per Month $279
House Account Net Delivery, monthly $41


We know that huge orders for paper gold can move the price by $20 in a second. These orders often exceed the CME stated limit of 6,000 contracts. Here’s a close view from October 31, when the sale of 2,365 contracts caused the gold price to plummet and forced the exchange to close for 20 seconds:



Many argue that the net long term effect of such orders is neutral, because every position taken must be removed before expiration. But that’s actually not true. The big players can hold hundreds of contracts into expiration and deliver the gold instead of unwinding the trade. Net, big banks can drive down the price by delivering relatively small amounts of gold.

A few large banks dominate the delivery process. I grouped the seven biggest players below to show that all the other sources are very small. Those seven banks have the opportunity to manage the gold price:


After gold’s big drop in October, I analyzed the October delivery numbers. The concentration was even more severe than I expected:


This chart shows that an amazing 98.5% of the gold delivered to the Comex in October came from just three banks: Barclays; Bank of Nova Scotia; and HSBC. They delivered this gold from their in house trading accounts.

The concentration was even worse on the other side of the trade—the side taking delivery. Barclays took 98% of all deliveries for customers. It could be all one customer, but it’s more likely that several customers used Barclays to clear their trades. Either way, notice that Barclays delivered 455 of those contracts from its house account to its own customers.

The opportunity for distorting the price of gold in an environment with so few players is obvious. Barclays knows 98% of the buyers and is supplying 35% of the gold. That’s highly concentrated, to say the least. And the amounts of gold we’re talking about are small—a bank could tip the supply by 10% by adding just 100 contracts. That amounts to only 10,000 ounces, which is worth a little over $11 million—a rounding error to any of these banks. These numbers are trivial.

Note that the big banks were delivering gold from their house accounts, meaning they were selling their own gold outright. In other words, they were not acting neutrally. These banks accounted for all but 19 of the contracts sold. That’s a position of complete dominance. Actually, it’s beyond dominance. These banks are the market.

My point is that this market is much too easily rigged , and that the warnings about manipulation are valid. At some point, too many customers will demand physical delivery and there will be a big crash. Long contracts will be liquidated with cash payouts because there won’t be enough gold to deliver. I saw a few squeezes in my 20 years trading futures, including gold. In my opinion, the futures market is not safe.

The tougher question is: for how long will big banks’ dominance continue to pressure gold down?

Unfortunately, I don’t know the answer. Vigilant regulators would help, but “futures market regulators” is almost an oxymoron. The actions of the CFTC and the Comex, not to mention how MF Global was handled, suggest that there has been little pressure on regulators to fix this obvious problem.

This quote from a recent Financial Times article does give some reason for optimism, however:

UBS is expected to strike a settlement over alleged trader misbehaviour at its precious metals desks with at least one authority as part of a group deal over forex with multiple regulators this week, two people close to the situation said. … The head of UBS’s gold desk in Zurich, André Flotron, has been on leave since January for reasons unspecified by the lender…..

The FCA fined Barclays £26m in May after an options trader was found to have manipulated the London gold fix.

Germany’s financial regulator BaFin has launched a formal investigation into the gold market and is probing Deutsche Bank, one of the former members of a tarnished gold fix panel that will soon be replaced by an electronic fixing.

The latter two banks are involved with the Comex.

Eventually, the physical gold market could overwhelm the smaller but more closely watched U.S. futures delivery market. Traders are already moving to other markets like Shanghai, which could accelerate that process. You might recall that I wrote about JP Morgan (JPM) exiting the commodities business, which I thought might help bring some normalcy back to the gold futures markets. Unfortunately, other banks moved right in to pick up JPM’s slack.

Banks can’t suppress gold forever. They need physical gold bullion to continue the scheme, and there’s just not as much gold around as there used to be. Some big sources, like the Fed’s stash and the London Bullion Market, are not available. The GLD inventory is declining.



If a big player like a central bank started to use the Comex to expand its gold holdings, it could overwhelm the Comex’s relatively small inventories. Warehouse stocks registered for delivery on the Comex exchange have declined to only 870,000 ounces (8,700 contracts). Almost that much can be demanded in one month: 6,281 contracts were delivered in August.

The big banks aren’t stupid. They will see these problems coming and can probably induce some holders to add to the supplies, so I’m not predicting a crisis from too many speculators taking delivery. But a short squeeze could definitely lead to huge price spikes. It could even lead to a collapse in the confidence in the futures system, which would drive gold much higher.

Signs of high physical demand from China, India, and small investors buying coins from the mint indicate that gold prices should be rising. The GOFO rate (London Gold Forward Offered rate) went negative, indicating tightness in the gold market. Concerns about China’s central bank wanting to de-dollarize its holdings should be adding to the interest in gold.

In other words, it doesn’t add up. I fully expect currency debasement to drive gold higher, and I continue to own gold. I’m very confident that the fundamentals will drive gold much higher in the long term. But for now, I don’t know when big banks will lose their ability to manage the futures market.

Oddities in the gold market have been alleged by many for quite some time, but few know where to start looking, and even fewer have the patience to dig out the meaningful bits from the mountain of market data available. Casey Research Chief Economist Bud Conrad is one of those few—and he turns his keen eye to every sector in order to find the smart way to play it.

This is the kind of analysis that’s especially important in this period of uncertainty and volatility… and you can put Bud’s expertise—along with the other skilled analysts’ talents—to work for you by taking a risk-free test-drive of The Casey Report right now.

The article Paper Gold and Its Effect on the Gold Price was originally published at casey research


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Connecting the Dots: Not Yet Time to Celebrate a Market Turnaround

By Tony Sagami


The Wall Street crowd liked what they heard last week and pushed the Dow Jones to a new high. In particular, the trio of the Republican landslide victory, an overall positive Q3 earning season, and a good jobs report that showed unemployment dropping to 5.8% was behind the rally.

And what a rally it was. Since the start of earnings season on October 8, the S&P 500 has increased by 3% and has bounced by an eye popping 9.1% from the October 15 low. Many of my peers have already popped the champagne and drunkenly declared a coast-is-clear resumption of the great bull market.

Not so fast. There was a trio of negative news pieces last week that tells me there is more to be worried about than there is to celebrate.

“V” Is for Vulnerable… Not Victory


You shouldn’t trust “V”-shaped bottoms.

Instead of being encouraged by the 9% moonshot since the October 15 low, I am even more skeptical. The S&P 500 shot up by 220 points in just three weeks, which tells me that the rubber band of stock market psychology is overstretched.



The stock market’s massive mood swing from fear to greed can change just as quickly to the other direction. Sharp trend reversals followed by sharp rebounds is not a kind of bottom building behavior.

The rally has been accomplished with low trading volume—a classic definition of an unsustainable bounce because it shows that the rally was more from a lack of sellers rather than an abundance of buyers.

And don’t forget about the drastic underperformance of small stocks. The Russell 2000 is up less than 1% for the year compared to 11% for the Nasdaq and 10% for the S&P 500.

Earnings: Look Ahead, Not Behind


Overall, corporate America had an impressive third quarter. 88% of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported their third-quarter earnings; of those, 66% exceeded Wall Street expectations.

Impressive, right? Not so fast!

When it comes to earnings, you need to be looking through the front-view windshield and not the rear-view mirror.



Even the perpetually bullish analytical community is getting worried. The average estimates for Q4 earnings as well as Q1 2015 are being downwardly adjusted. Since October 1:
  • Q4 earnings growth have been lowered from 11.1% to 7.6%;and
  • Q1 2015 earnings growth has been chopped from 11.5% to 8.8%.
Don’t give Wall Street too much credit for being rational. Those downward revisions are largely based on the cautious outlook given the corporate America itself. The ratio of negative outlooks to positive outlooks is 3.9 to 1!

Both Wall Street and corporate America are concerned, and so should you be.

Don’t Ignore Central Bankers’ Warnings


Many of the world’s central bankers gathered in Paris last week to figure out how to keep the world’s leaky financial boat from sinking, as well as spending more of their taxpayers’ money on fine wine, cuisine, and luxury hotels.

All those central bankers are eager to keep their economies afloat, but judging from the comments, they’re worried that they are running out of monetary bullets.

“Normalization could lead to some heightened financial volatility,” warned Janet Yellen.



“This shift in policy will undoubtedly be accompanied by some degree of market turbulence,” said William Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

“The transition could be bumpy … potential for financial market disruption,” cautioned Bank of England Governor Mark Carney.

“Paramount risk of very low interest rates is to entertain the illusion that governments can continue to borrow rather than make difficult and yet necessary choices and indefinitely put off the implementation of structural reforms,” admitted Bank of France Governor Christian Noyer.

“The bottom line is there is a very good question about whether more stimulus is the answer,” said Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan.

Perhaps the most honest and telling statement from Malaysian central banker Zeti Akhtar Aziz: “In this highly connected world, you would be kindest to your neighbors when your keep your own house in order.”

That’s a whole lot of central banker warnings—and it’s always a mistake to ignore the people who control the world’s printing presses.

30-year market expert Tony Sagami leads the Yield Shark and Rational Bear advisories at Mauldin Economics. To learn more about Yield Shark and how it helps you maximize dividend income, click here.

To learn more about Rational Bear and how you can use it to benefit from falling stocks and sectors, click here.



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Monday, November 10, 2014

The Madness of the EU’s Energy Policy

By Marin Katusa, Chief Energy Investment Strategist

The stakes couldn’t be higher. Vladimir Putin has launched a devastating plan to turn Russia into an energy powerhouse. And Europe, dependent on Russian natural gas and oil for a third of its fuel needs, has fallen right into his hands: Putin can bend the EU to his will simply by twisting the valve shut.

Considering how precarious Europe’s economic security is, one would have thought that now would be a good time for the EU to reassess its energy policy and address the effect crippling energy costs are having on its struggling economy. But the EU is never going to agree to a rational reappraisal of its policies, because eco-loons like its new energy commissioner, Violetta Bulc, have taken over the asylum.

A practicing fire walker and a shaman, she’s the sort of airy fairy Goddard College type who only believes in the power of “positive energy.” What will guide us in this frightening new era is, according to her blog, the spirit of the White Lions:

The Legend says that White Lions are star beings, uniting star energy within earth form of Lions. The native ancestors were convinced that they are children of the Sun God, thus embodying Solar Logos and legends say that they came down to Earth to help save humanity at a time of crisis. There is no doubt that this time is right now.

With the European Commission stuffed with green anti capitalist zealots, it’s not surprising that the EU’s response to the challenges of a resurgent Russia is a complete break with reality.

The EU has come up with an aggressive climate plan—just like Obama’s. In defiance of all logic—if not Putin—it’s agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% and make clean energy, like wind and solar, 27% of overall energy use by 2030. Instead of guaranteeing the “survival of mankind,” this would cause the extinction of Europe’s industry—unless there’s a secret plan to massively expand nuclear power.

Fortunately for Europe, its leaders haven’t yet lost all their marbles.

These climate goals are just a bargaining chip in the runup to next year’s UN climate summit in Paris. They’re not legally binding. Unless the whole world commits to an equally radical policy of deindustrialization—which seems rather unlikely to say the least—the EU will “review” its climate targets.

This is just as well. In trying to meet the so-called 20:20 target—a 20% reduction in emissions by 2020—Germany and the UK have already discovered that renewable energy is too costly to maintain a competitive industry. As electricity prices skyrocket, Germany’s industrial giants are either having their power costs subsidized or are relocating to the US.

Both countries are struggling with the inability of wind and solar energy to provide reliable baseload power, which is threatening to cause blackouts.

The UK is putting its faith in fracking—and has managed to head off any EU legislation to ban shale-gas. But Germany and its fellow travelers, who have no qualms about reverting to coal, are simply overriding the EU Commission and its zero emissions utopia.

Knowing that EU climate policy would destroy international competitiveness and crush their economies, Poland, which depends on coal for 90% of its energy needs, and other low-income countries have taken a different approach. They've forced the Commission to give them special exemptions from any emissions reduction plan.

Unlike in the U.S.—where Obama is taking executive action to wipe out the coal industry—lignite, or brown coal, is set to become an increasingly important part of Europe’s energy supply, as it is in much of the rest of the world. There are 19 new lignite power stations in various stages of approval and construction in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Greece, Germany, Poland, Romania, and Slovenia. When completed, these will emit nearly as much CO2 as the UK.

Which is ironic. The UK is the only member of the EU to have been insane enough to impose a legally binding carbon dioxide reduction target intended to take it to 80 percent of 1990 levels by 2050. It’s also the only modern industrial nation where there’s serious talk of World War II style energy rationing.

As you’ll discover in my new book, The Colder War, Europe and America need to wake up. They’ve never been so economically vulnerable. The time for indulging environmental fantasies and putting one’s faith in White Lions is over—unless, that is, you want to see Putin controlling the world.

Click here to get your copy of my new book. Inside, you’ll discover exactly how Putin is orchestrating a takeover of the global energy trade, what it means for the future of America, and how it will directly affect you and your personal savings.

The article The Madness of the EU’s Energy Policy was originally published at casey research


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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Surging U.S. Dollar Brings High Volatility in Crude Oil, Gold, Silver and Grains

Crude oil futures in the December contract rallied $.65 to finish around 78.60 a barrel after hitting multi-year lows this week at 76.00 and if you’re still short this market I would place my stop above the 10 day high which currently stands at 82.88 a barrel which is around $4 away or $4,000 risk per contract as chart structure is starting to improve on a daily basis. Crude oil futures are trading far below their 20 & 100 day moving averages as prices rose today on rumors of a Saudi Arabia explosion sending prices sharply higher at one point, however I think this is just a dead cat bounce so continue to play this to the downside making sure you place the proper stop loss risking 2% of your account balance on any given trade as the trend clearly is to the downside.

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The U.S dollar was up again this week and continues to surge to the upside and I do believe that the foreign currencies continue to move lower while continuing to pressure crude oil and many of the other commodity prices such as gold, silver, and the grain market, however every market does need a kickback so take advantage of any rally in tomorrow’s trade as I still think oversupply and a strong dollar take this market sharply lower here in the short term.

As I’ve talked about in many previous blogs I have missed this trade to the downside but one of my theories was the fact that the United States government wants lower oil prices not only to help the U.S consumer but to punish Russia which has sanctions and their whole economy is based off of strong crude oil prices so this is the double whammy to Russia and I think this will continue for some time to come.

On Tuesday the Republicans gained power in the Senate and have control in the House and that is rumored to be very bearish crude oil prices as the Keystone pipeline could now take affect which have been blocked by the Democrats and will make the United States even more oil independent and put pressure on prices in the short term as the fundamentals in this market are absolutely terrible. The volatility is very high in crude at the present time so make sure that you trade the proper amount of contracts risking only 2% of your account balance on any given trade because you need to have an exit strategy when you are wrong.
Trend: Lower
Chart Structure: Improving

See you in the markets Monday!
Mike Seery

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Mark Twain: History Doesn't Repeat itself....But it Does Rhyme. Gold, Vanderbilt and more

By John Mauldin


“The significant problems that we have created cannot be solved at the level of thinking we were at when we created them.”– Albert Einstein

“Generals are notorious for their tendency to ‘fight the last war’ – by using the strategies and tactics of the past to achieve victory in the present. Indeed, we all do this to some extent. Life's lessons are hard won, and we like to apply them – even when they don't apply. Sadly enough, fighting the last war is often a losing proposition. Conditions change. Objectives change. Strategies change. And you must change. If you don't, you lose.”– Dr. G. Terry Madonna and Dr. Michael Young

“Markets are perpetuating a serious error by acting on the belief that central bankers actually know what they are doing. They do not. Not because they are ill-intentioned but because they are human and subject to the limitations that apply to all human endeavors. If you want proof of their fallibility, simply look at their economic forecasts. Despite their efforts to do so, central banks can’t repeal the business cycle (though they can distort it). While the 2008 financial crisis should have taught them that lesson, it appears to have led them to precisely the opposite conclusion.

“There are limits to knowledge in every field, including the hard sciences, and economics is not a hard science; it is a social science whose knowledge is imprecise, and practitioners’ ability to predict the future is extremely limited. Fed officials are attempting to guide an extremely complex economy with tools of questionable utility, and markets are ignoring their warnings that their ability to manage a positive outcome is highly uncertain. Markets are confusing what they want to happen with what is likely to happen, a common psychological phenomenon. Investors who prosper in the long run will be those who acknowledge the severe limits of economic knowledge and the compelling evidence that trillions of dollars of QE and years of zero interest rates may have saved the system from immediate collapse five years ago but failed to produce sustained economic growth or long-term price stability.”– Michael Lewitt, The Credit Strategist, Nov. 1, 2014

As I predicted months ago in this letter and last year in Code Red, the Japanese have launched another missile in their ongoing currency war, somewhat fittingly on Halloween. Rather than being spooked, the markets saw it as just another round of feel good quantitative easing and climbed to all-time highs on the Dow and S&P 500. The Nikkei soared even more (for good reason). As we will see later in this letter, this is not your father’s quantitative easing. The Japanese, for reasons of their own, will intervene not only in their own equity markets but in foreign equity markets as well, and do so in a size and manner that will be significant. This gambit is going to have ramifications far beyond merely weakening the yen. In this week’s letter we are going to take an in depth look at what the Japanese have done.

It is something of a cliché to quote Mark Twain’s “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” But it is an appropriate way to kick things off, since we are going to look at the “ancient” history of Mark Twain’s era, and specifically the Panic of 1873. That October saw the beginning of 65 months of recession (certainly longer than our generation’s own Great Recession), which inflicted massive pain on the country. The initial cause was government monetary intervention, but the crisis was deepened by soaring debt and deflation.
As we seek to understand what happened 141 years ago, we’ll revisit the phenomenon of October as a month of negative market surprises. It actually has its roots in the interplay between farming and banking.

The Panic of 1873

Shortly after the Civil War, which saw the enactment of federal fiat money (the “greenback” of that era, issued to finance the war), there was a federal law passed that required rural and agricultural banks to keep 25% of their deposits with certain certified national banks, which were based mainly in New York. The national banks were required to pay interest on those deposits, so they had to put the money out for loans. But because those deposits were “callable” at any time, there was a limit to the types of loans they could do, as long-term loans mismatched assets and liabilities.

The brokers of the New York Stock Exchange were considered an excellent target for such loans. They could use the proceeds of the loans as margin to buy stocks, either for their own trading or on behalf of their clients. As long as the stocks went up – or at the very least as long as the ultimate clients were liquid – there wasn’t a problem for the national banks. Money could be repatriated; or, if necessary, margins could be called in a day. But this was before the era of a central bank, so actual physical dollars (and other physical instruments) were involved as reserves, as was gold. Greenbacks could be used to buy gold, but at a rate that floated. The price of gold could fluctuate significantly from year to year, depending upon the availability of gold and the supply of greenbacks (and of course, market sentiment – which certainly rhymes with our own time).

The driver for October volatility was an annual cycle, an ebb and flow of dollars to and from these rural banks. In the fall when the harvest was ready, the country banks would recall their margin loans in order to pay farmers or loan to merchants to buy crops from farmers and ship them via the railroads. Money would then become tight on Wall Street as the national banks called their loans back in.

This cycle often caused extra volatility, depending on the shortness of loan capital. Margin rates could rise to as much as 1% per day! Of course, this would force speculators to sell their stocks or cover their shorts, but in general it could drive down prices and make margin calls more likely. This monetary tightening often sent stocks into a downward spiral – not unlike the downward pressure that present-day Fed tightening actions have exerted, but in a compressed period of time.

If there was enough leverage in the system, a cascade could result, with stocks dropping 20% very quickly. Since much of Wall Street was involved in railroads, and railroads were nothing if not leveraged loans and capital, falling asset prices would reduce the ability of investors in railroads to find the necessary capital for expansion and maintenance of operations.

This historical pattern no longer explains the present-day vulnerability of markets in October. Perhaps the phenomenon persists simply due to market lore and investor psychology. Like an amputee feeling a twinge in his lost limb, do we still sense the ghosts of crashes past?

(And once more with Mark Twain: “October. This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August, and February.”)

It was in this fall environment that a young Jay Gould decided to manipulate the gold market in the autumn of 1873, creating a further squeeze on the dollar. Not only would he profit off a play in gold, but he thought the move would help him in his quest to take control of the Erie Railroad. Historian Charles R. Morris explains, in a fascinating book called The Tycoons

Gould’s mind ran in labyrinthine channels, and he turned to the gold markets as part of a strategy to improve Erie’s freights. Grain was America’s largest export in 1869. Merchants purchased grain from farmers on credit, shipped it overseas, and paid off the farmers when they received their remittances from abroad. Their debt to the farmers was in greenbacks, but their receipts from abroad came in gold, for the greenback was not legal tender overseas. It could take weeks, or even months, to complete a transaction, so the merchant was exposed to changes in the gold/greenback exchange rate during that time. If gold fell (or the greenback rose), the merchant’s gold proceeds might not cover his greenback debts.

The New York Gold Exchange was created to help merchants protect against that risk. Using the Exchange, a merchant could borrow gold when he made his contract, convert it to greenbacks, and pay off his suppliers right away. Then he would pay off the gold loan when his gold payment came in some weeks later; since it was gold for gold, exchange rates didn’t matter. To protect against default, the Exchange required full cash collateral to borrow gold. But that was an opening for speculations by clever traders like Gould. If a trader bought gold and then immediately lent it, he could finance his purchase with the cash collateral and thereby acquire large positions while using very little of his own cash.

[Note from JM: In the fall there was plenty of demand for gold and a shortage of greenbacks. It was the perfect time if you wanted to create a “corner” on gold.]

Gould reasoned that if he could force up the price of gold, he might improve the Erie’s freight revenues. If gold bought more greenbacks, greenback-priced wheat would look cheaper to overseas buyers, so exports, and freights, would rise. And because of the fledgling status of the new Gold Exchange, gold prices looked eminently manipulable, since only about $20 million in gold was usually available in New York. [Some of his partners in the conspiracy were skeptical because…] The Grant administration, which had just taken office in March, was sitting on $100 million in gold reserves. If gold started suddenly rising, it would hurt merchant importers, who could be expected to clamor for government gold sales.

So Gould went to President Grant’s brother-in-law, Abel Corbin, who liked to brag about his family influence. He set up a meeting with President Grant, at which Gould learned that Grant was cautious about any significant movements in either the gold or the greenback, noting the “fictitiousness about the prosperity of the country and that the bubble might be tapped in one way as well as another.” That was discouraging: popping a bubble meant tighter money and lower gold.

But Gould plunged ahead with his gold buying, including rather sizable amounts for Corbin’s wife (Grant’s wife’s sister), such that each one-dollar rise in gold would generate $11,000 in profits. Corbin arranged further meetings with Grant and discouraged him from selling gold all throughout September.

Gould and his partners initiated a “corner” in the gold market. This was actually legal at the time, and the NY gold market was relatively small compared to the amount of capital it was possible for a large, well-organized cabal to command. True corners were devastating to bears, as they generally borrowed shares or gold to sell short, betting on the fall in price. Just as today, if the price falls too much, then the short seller can buy the stock back and take his losses. But if there is no stock to buy back, if someone has cornered the market, then losses can be severe. Which of course is what today we call a short squeeze.

The short position grew to some $200 million, most of it owed to Gould and his friends. But there was only $20 million worth of gold available to cover the short sales. That gold stock had been borrowed and borrowed and borrowed again. The price of gold rose as Gould’s cabal kept pressing their bet.

But Grant got wind of the move. His wife wrote her sister, demanding to know if the rumor of their involvement was true. Corbin panicked and told Gould he wanted out, with his $100,000+ of profits, of course. Gould promised him his profits if he would just keep quiet.

Then Gould began to unload all his gold positions, even as some of his partners kept right on buying. You have to keep up pretenses, of course. Gould was telling his partners to push the price up to 160, while he was selling through another set of partners.

It is a small irony that Gould also had a contact in the government in Washington (a Mr. Butterfield) who assured him that there was no move to sell gold from DC, even as that contact was personally selling all his gold as fast as he could. Whatever bad you could say about Gould (and there were lots of bad things you could say), his trading instincts were good. He sensed his contact was lying and doubled down on getting out of the trade. In the end, Gould didn’t make any money to speak of and in fact damaged his intention of getting control of the Erie Railroad that fall.

The attempted gold corner didn’t do much harm to the country in and of itself. But when President Grant decided to step in and sell gold, there was massive buying, which sucked a significant quantity of physical dollars out of the market and into the US Treasury at a time when dollars were short. This move was a clumsy precursor to the open-market operations of the Federal Reserve of today, except that those dollars were needed as margin collateral by brokerage companies. No less than 14 New York Stock Exchange brokerages went bankrupt within a few days, not including brokerages that dealt just in gold.

All this happened in the fall, when there were fewer physical dollars to be had.

The price of gold collapsed. Cornelius Vanderbilt, who was often at odds with Jay Gould, had to step into the market (literally – that is, physically, which was rare for him) in order to quell the panic and provide capital, a precursor to J.P. Morgan’s doing the same during the Panic of 1907.

While many today believe the Fed should never have been created, we have not lived through those periods of panics and crashes. And while I think the Fed now acts in ways that are inappropriate (how can 12 FOMC board members purport to fine-tune an economic cycle, let alone solve employment problems?), the one true and proper role of the Fed is to provide liquidity in time of a crisis.

People Who Live Too Much on Credit”

At the end of the day, it was too much debt that was the problem in 1873. Cornelius Vanderbilt was quoted in the epic book The First Tycoon as saying (emphasis mine)

I’ll tell you what’s the matter – people undertake to do about four times as much business as they can legitimately undertake.… There are a great many worthless railroads started in this country without any means to carry them through. Respectable banking houses in New York, so called, make themselves agents for sale of the bonds of the railroads in question and give a kind of moral guarantee of their genuineness. The bonds soon reach Europe, and the markets of their commercial centres, from the character of the endorsers, are soon flooded with them.… When I have some money I buy railroad stock or something else, but I don’t buy on credit. I pay for what I get. People who live too much on credit generally get brought up with a round turn in the long run. The Wall Street averages ruin many a man there, and is like faro.

In the wake of Gould’s shenanigans, President Grant came to New York to assess the damage; and eventually his Secretary of the Treasury decided to buy $30 million of bonds in a less clumsy precursor to Federal Reserve open market operations, trying to inject some liquidity back into the markets. This was done largely as a consequence of a conversation with Vanderbilt, who offered to put up $10 million of his own, a vast sum at the time.

But the damage was done. The problem of liquidity was created by too much debt, as Vanderbilt noted. That debt inflated assets, and when those assets fell in price, so did the net worth of the borrowers. Far too much debt had to be worked off, and the asset price crash precipitated a rather deep depression, leaving in its wake far greater devastation than the recent Great Recession did. It took many years for the deleveraging process to work out. Sound familiar?

To continue reading this article from Thoughts from the Frontline – a free weekly publication by John Mauldin, renowned financial expert, best-selling author, and Chairman of Mauldin Economics – please click here.

Important Disclosures

The article Thoughts from the Frontline: Rhyme and Reason was originally published at mauldin economics


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