End The Greek Ponzi Scheme: Cut Greece Loose

 

Now come Greeks bearing the gift of confirmation that Margaret Thatcher was right about socialist governments: “They always run out of other people’s money.” Greece, from whose ancient playwrights Western drama descends, is in an absurdist melodrama about securing yet another cash infusion from international creditors. This would add another boulder to a mountain of debt almost twice the size of Greece’s gross domestic product. This protracted dispute will result in desirable carnage if Greece defaults, thereby becoming a constructively frightening example to all democracies doling out unsustainable, growth-suppressing entitlements.

In January, Greek voters gave power to the left-wing Syriza party, one third of which, The Economist reports, consists of “Maoists, Marxists and supporters of Che Guevara.” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, 40, a retired student radical, immediately denounced a European Union declaration criticizing Russia’s dismemberment of Ukraine. He chose only one cabinet member with prior government experience — a leader of Greece’s Stalinist communist party. Tsipras’ minister for culture and education says Greek education “should not be governed by the principle of excellence … it is a warped ambition.” Practicing what he preaches, he proposes abolishing university entrance exams.

Voters chose Syriza because it promised to reverse reforms, particularly of pensions and labour laws, demanded by creditors, and to resist new demands for rationality. Tsipras immediately vowed to rehire 12,000 government employees. His shrillness increasing as his options contract, he says the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund are trying to “humiliate” Greece.

How could one humiliate a nation that chooses governments committed to Rumpelstiltskin economics, the belief that the straw of government largesse can be spun into the gold of national wealth? Tsipras’ approach to mollifying those who hold his nation’s fate in their hands is to say they must respect his “mandate” to resist them. He thinks Greek voters, by making delusional promises to themselves, obligate other European taxpayers to fund them. Tsipras, who says the creditors are “pillaging” Greece, is trying to pillage his local governments, which are resisting his extralegal demands that they send him their cash reserves.

Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s finance minister, is an academic admirer of Nobel laureate John Nash, the Princeton genius depicted in the movie “A Beautiful Mind,” who recently died. Varoufakis is interested in Nash’s work on game theory, especially the theory of co-operative games in which two or more participants aim for a resolution better for all than would result absent co-operation. Varoufakis’ idea of co-operation is to accuse the creditors whose money Greece has been living on of “fiscal waterboarding.” Tsipras tells Greece’s creditors to read “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” Ernest Hemingway’s novel of the Spanish Civil War. His passive-aggressive message? “Play nicely or we will kill ourselves.”

Since joining the eurozone in 2001, Greece has borrowed a sum 1.7 times its 2013 GDP. Its 25 per cent unemployment (50 per cent among young workers) results from a 25 percent shrinkage of GDP. It is a mendicant reduced to hoping to “extend and pretend” forever. But extending the bailout and pretending that creditors will someday be paid encourages other European socialists to contemplate shedding debts — other people’s money that is no longer fun.

Greece, with just 11 million people and 2 per cent of the eurozone’s GDP, is unlikely to cause a contagion by leaving the zone. If it also leaves the misbegotten European Union, this evidence of the EU’s mutability might encourage Britain’s “Euro-skeptics” when, later this year, that nation has a referendum on reclaiming national sovereignty by

withdrawing from the EU. If Greece so cherishes its sovereignty that it bristles at conditions imposed by creditors, why is it in the EU, the perverse point of which is to “pool” nations’ sovereignties in order to dilute national consciousness?

The EU has a flag no one salutes, an anthem no one sings, a president no one can name, a parliament whose powers subtract from those of national legislatures, a bureaucracy no one admires or controls and rules of fiscal rectitude that no member is penalized for ignoring. It does, however, have in Greece a member whose difficulties are wonderfully didactic.

It cannot be said too often: There cannot be too many socialist smashups. The best of these punish reckless creditors whose lending enables socialists to live, for a while, off other people’s money. The world, which owes much to ancient Athens’ legacy, including the idea of democracy, is indebted to today’s Athens for the reminder that reality does not respect a democracy’s delusions.

NOTE: Our Managed Accounts have no Greek Exposure/ no Greek Banks or Bank Accounts – you deserve that attention and ability.

Contact Details:

Information must proceed action and that is why we offer a no cost / no obligation inquiry service if you are not already a client.

Email :                info@jackbassteam.com

or Call Jack direct at 604-858-3202 – Pacific Time 10:00 –4:;00 Monday to Friday

The main intention of our website is to provide objective and independent information that will help the potential investor to make his own decisions in an informed manner. To this effect we try to explain in a simple language the different processes and the most important figures involved in offshore business and to show the different alternatives that exist, evaluating their pros and cons. On the other hand we intend – in terms of offshore finance, bringing these products to the average citizen.

Do something to help yourself – contact Jack A. Bass now !

 

Economic Updates : 2015 Forecast / Deflation

Two New Articles

1) Outlook for U.S. and global economies next year is cautiously optimistic

WTI – and Gold – Drops on Date – as Global Manufacturing Misses Estimates

West Texas Intermediate crude fell amid speculation that weakening manufacturing from Germany to China will cap global oil demand. Brent declined in London.

Futures dropped as much as 1.2 percent from the Aug. 29 close. Floor trading in New York was shut for the Labor Day holiday, and transactions will be booked for settlement purposes today. Purchasing manufacturing indexes for Germany, Italy, the U.K. and China all came in below estimates for August, while OPEC’s output increased to the highest level in a year.

“All eyes are on the demand side, and weaker statistics for example in China are bearish,” Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodity analyst in Oslo at SEB AB, said by telephone. “The increase in tension between Russia and Ukraine is bearish for oil” because economic sanctions on Russia may eventually result in a slowdown in Europe, he said.

WTI for October delivery declined as much as $1.19 to $94.77 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $94.88 at 1:46 p.m. London time. The volume of all futures traded was more than double the 100-day average for the time of day. Prices decreased 2.3 percent last month and are down 3.6 percent this year.

Brent for October settlement was $1.11 lower at $101.68 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The European benchmark crude traded at a premium of $6.83 to WTI, compared with a close of $7.23 on Aug. 29.

Factory Output

China’s manufacturing slowed more than projected last month, joining weaker-than-anticipated credit, production and investment data in indicating that the economy is losing momentum. The nation is the world’s second-largest oil consumer.

Markit Economics’ euro-area gauge slid more than initially predicted, with the index for Italy unexpectedly falling below 50, signaling the first contraction in 14 months. In the U.K., manufacturing expanded by the least in more than a year.

A final reading of Markit’s U.S. manufacturing PMI is due today, along with the Institute for Supply Management’s factory index for August, which economists forecast will drop to 57, from 57.1 in July.

“There are slowdowns occurring,” Jonathan Barratt, the chief investment officer at Ayers Alliance Securities in Sydney, said by phone. “OPEC is producing enough oil to placate any issues.”

Production from the 12-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries rose by 891,000 barrels a day to 31 million in August, according to a Bloomberg survey of oil companies, producers and analysts. Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Angola led supply gains as new deposits came online, security improved and field-maintenance programs ended. Iran and Venezuela were the only members to reduce output.

Ukraine warned of an escalating conflict in its easternmost regions as U.S. President Barack Obama headed to eastern Europe to reassure NATO members. Ukraine’s army will take on Russia’s “full-scale invasion,” Defense Minister Valeriy Geletey said on Facebook, a shift away from the government’s earlier communication that focused on battling insurgents.

Dollar Strengthens Before Data as Bonds Decline With Gold

The dollar strengthened to a seven-month high against the yen, government bonds tumbled and gold fell before data that analysts forecast will show expansion in U.S. manufacturing.

The dollar climbed 0.6 percent to 104.93 yen at 8:42 a.m. in New York and gained 0.4 percent to $1.6535 per British pound. Yields on 10-year Treasury notes increased four basis points to 2.38 percent. Futures (SPX) on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 0.1 percent after the index rallied the most since February last month. Gold dropped 1.5 percent.

U.S. investors return after the Labor Day break with manufacturing and construction spending reports. Gauges of factory output in Europe and China signal slower growth, boosting speculation that policy makers will need to boost stimulus measures. European money markets are pricing in about a 50 percent probability that the European Central Bank will cut interest rates by 10 basis points this week, according to BNP Paribas SA.

“In the U.S. across the board we have had strong data,”said Niels Christensen, chief currency strategist at Nordea Bank AB in Copenhagen. “That will keep growth momentum going. We have had a positive dollar trend for the past two months. I find it difficult to see this trend is going to disappear in the short term.”

U.S. Reports

The Institute for Supply Management’s August factory gauge probably held last month near the highest since April 2011, according to the median of 70 estimates in a Bloomberg survey. Another report probably will show U.S. construction rebounded in July, a Bloomberg survey showed. Reports yesterday signaled manufacturing slowed in China, the U.K. and the euro area.

The yen fell to its lowest level against the dollar since Jan. 16 amid speculation Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will appoint an ally to head the ministry in charge of reforming the Government Pension Investment Fund, potentially boosting investment overseas. The currency weakened to 105.44 on Jan. 2, a level not seen since October 2008.

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index, which tracks the U.S. currency against 10 major peers, climbed 0.3 percent to 1,033.71 and touched 1,034.16, the strongest since January.

The pound weakened after a YouGov Plc poll showed growing support for Scottish independence before this month’s referendum. One-month implied volatility on sterling versus the dollar jumped by the most in almost six years.

Government Bonds

European government bonds fell as Germany’s 10-year yield increased four basis points to 0.91 percent and the U.K.’s rose five basis points to 2.43 percent.

The euro overnight index average, or Eonia, which measures the cost of lending between euro-area banks, fell to a record minus 0.013 percent yesterday.

Corporate borrowing costs fell to a record in Europe, with the average yield demanded to hold investment-grade bonds in euros dropping to 1.28 percent, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch index data. The gauge declined 19 basis points in the past month on stimulus speculation.

The Stoxx 600 of European shares fell 0.1 percent after increasing 0.5 percent in the past two days.

Vallourec SA climbed 4 percent after UBS AG advised investors to buy shares of the French producer of steel pipes for the oil and gas industry. Weir Group Plc gained 2.9 percent after Credit Suisse Group AG raised its recommendation on the British supplier of pressure pumps to outperform from neutral.

Mast Therapeutics Spec BUY

MSTX : NYSE MKT : US$0.85
BUY 
Target: US$3.00

COMPANY DESCRIPTION:
Mast Therapeutics is a biopharmaceutical company
focused on its Molecular Adhesion and Sealant
Technology (MAST) platform to treat serious diseases
with significant unmet needs. Its lead product,
investigational agent MST-188, shows potential in
patients with sickle cell disease.
All amounts in US$ unless otherwise noted.

Life Sciences — Biotechnology
AIRES ACQUISITION TO BOLSTER
PH2 PIPELINE WITH NEW RX CANDIDATE, NEW PROGRAMS
Investment recommendation
Reiterate BUY; $3.00 target on MST-188 potential in sickle cell disease
crises. MSTX’s lead candidate, MST-188, binds to hydrophobic surfaces on
damaged cells to reduce cell adhesion and blood viscosity. We expect
positive data from the Ph3 EPIC trial to show reduced length of SCD vasoocclusive
crisis (VOC) and we think recently acquired AIR001, nebulized
nitrite for PAH, complements MST-188 well. We see large market potential
for MST-188 given the unmet need in SCD and potential for combo-Tx. Our
$3.00 target is based on a pNPV analysis.
Investment highlights
 MSTX yesterday announced signing of a definitive agreement to buy
Aires in an all-stock transaction. Aires will bring along its Ph2 orphan
asset AIR001, a nebulized form of nitrite (converted in vivo to nitric
oxide) for pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Nitric oxide is
thought to have potential benefits for PAH, SCD and CV disease (e.g.,
heart failure) by promoting vasodilation and regulating smooth muscle
proliferation, clotting and white blood cell adhesion.
 Aires cash balance to offset cost of AIR001 development in 2014.
Aires will bring ~$3M net cash to MSTX, which should cover ~$2M in
expected current R&D obligations from the Ph2 PAH trial currently
closing down and an investigator-sponsored PAH/HF trial.
 Next value inflection catalysts now likely from Ph2 strategies in ALI,
HF although largest inflection remains EPIC SCD data in Q4/16. We
expect next major data around H2/15 from a Ph2 acute limb ischemia
trial MAST intends to initiate soon. We think Ph3 EPIC enrollment is
on track to finish by EOY 2015 with new enrollment criteria
expansion, and we expect more updates on Ph2 ALI trial and plans for
AIR001 plans in the coming quarters.

Is The Fed Running A Ponzi Scheme

Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme Looks Like a Joke Compared to This

By Michael Lombardi, MBA for Profit Confidential

 

The “Bernie” Madoff name became famous while the stock market was falling during the credit and financial crisis. He was responsible for running one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in U.S. history—if I recall correctly, it was a $65.0-billion scheme. But as the scam got bigger, Madoff couldn’t go on. He was caught, prosecuted, and sentenced to more than 100 years in jail.

What did we learn from the Madoff ordeal? At the very least, we learned Ponzi schemes eventually become impossible to hide, no matter how smart and cunning the perpetrator.

Wednesday of this week, we learned that the Federal Reserve’s Ponzi scheme of printing paper money and giving it to the government via the purchase of U.S. Treasuries will go on.

While the Fed says it wants to keep the “stimulus” going until the economy gets better, as I have written in these pages many times, the Fed cannot stop printing because if it did stop, three things would happen: 1) the stock market would collapse; 2) housing prices would fall; and 3) the government would have no real buyer for its debt (especially in light of China and Japan pulling back on buying U.S. Treasuries).

Madoff’s $65.0-billion Ponzi scheme is nothing when I look at the U.S. national debt figures. While it looks like we are beyond the point of no return, our national debt level would have to double from $17.0 trillion to $34.0 trillion before our debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio matches that of Japan. (And don’t for a moment think that’s not going to happen!)

In 2011, only two years ago, we heard Congress debate whether they should increase our national debt limit or not. The theater of a government shutdown was on for a while; it drove key stock indices lower and bond yields higher. Now we’re at square one again. Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew sent a letter requesting an increase in our national debt limit by October, or the U.S. economy would face a risk of default.

The bottom line, dear reader, is that the U.S. government is broke. To keep the government afloat from now until Congress passes a new national debt limit, the government has stopped investing into the pensions of federal government workers.

I don’t for a second doubt that Congress won’t raise the national debt limit—it will; it has done just that 78 times since 1960. Why would this time be any different?

What has happened so far—the massive printing of paper money—is just one part of the puzzle. The Ponzi scheme is complex and has many moving parts. The government’s failure to clamp down on spending is the main problem.

In the 11 months of the fiscal 2013 year, the U.S. government has incurred a budget deficit of $755 billon, according to the Bureau of Fiscal Services. (So much for those estimates that said the U.S. government budget deficit would be below $700 billion this year!)

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) expects the U.S. government to continue posting budget deficits until 2015, when it says the annual budget deficit will equal two percent of the gross domestic product of the U.S. economy. (Source: Congressional Budget Office, September 17, 2013.) I don’t buy that prediction for a moment. Interest costs on the national debt alone could be a huge problem going forward.

For the government’s fiscal year ending this September 30, the U.S. government expects to have incurred $414 billion in interest payments alone. Assuming a national debt of $16.7 trillion, this equates to an interest rate of about 2.5%. But interest rates are rising!

And the more the national debt increases, the higher the interest payment. Think what will happen once interest rates in the U.S. economy start to climb higher, and when creditors start asking for higher returns due to our massive amount of national debt. Even if our national debt doesn’t change and interest rates go back to normal (it’s going to happen), the interest payments on the national debt would rise to over $900 billion a year!

Bring Social Security liabilities into the picture, and the future looks even more gruesome. According to the Pew Research Center, every day 10,000 Americans reach retirement age. (Source: Pew Research Center, December 29, 2010.) With the financial crisis having placed pressure on retirement savings, retirees are now relying on Social Security more than ever.

Right now we are seeing the government hoping investors will keep re-investing in U.S. bonds while the Fed picks up the slack. But what happens when they say, “We want our money back?” It will make Madoff’s Ponzi scheme look like a joke.

 

The Deficit Is Shrinking! (and Nobody Cares) – Bloomberg Businessweek

Logo of the United States White House, especia...
Logo of the United States White House, especially in conjunction with offices like the Chief of Staff and Press Secretary. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On May 14, as Washington officialdom was transfixed by the IRS scandal, the Congressional Budget Office announced that the budget deficit will shrink this fiscal year to $642 billion, or just 4 percent of gross domestic product. It’s the smallest deficit since 2008, and less than half 2009’s record $1.4 trillion shortfall. Since February, the CBO has cut $200 billion off its deficit projection for 2013 and $618 billion off its cumulative estimate for the next decade. Thanks to higher tax revenues and deep spending cuts, the deficit has been shrinking by about $42 billion a month for the past six months. The CBO projects that the deficit will fall to $342 billion by 2015, or only 2 percent of GDP.

Even so, the country’s improving finances haven’t lowered the din of partisan bickering over U.S. fiscal policy. Keynesian economists say that the deficit is narrowing too quickly, curtailing growth and threatening to derail an economy that grew a tepid 2.5 percent in the first quarter. Republican deficit hawks are unimpressed by the short-term reductions and want more cuts to head off exploding long-term debt driven by rising spending on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

“I must have missed the Kool-Aid,” says Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former CBO director who served as John McCain’s chief economic adviser during the 2008 presidential campaign. To Holtz-Eakin, a deficit that’s 4 percent of GDP isn’t worth bragging about. Plus, the short-term reductions are mostly from technical revisions such as tax code changes and a $95 billion, one-time payment from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The long-term situation is still scary, he says.

As millions of baby boomers retire, entitlement spending will start eating up government funds. Unless those programs are reined in, the CBO projects the budget deficit will start to rise again in 2016 and hit $895 billion by 2023. Also, today’s low interest rates, which allow the government to sell 10-year Treasury bonds below 2 percent, won’t last forever. The CBO projects that by 2023, annual interest payments on the country’s debt will nearly quadruple, to $823 billion. A new plan being floated by über-austerians Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, co-chairs of President Obama’s 2010 debt commission, calls for replacing the $85 billion in cuts from the sequester with $2.5 trillion in additional deficit reduction, including $220 billion in defense cuts and $585 billion in health-care savings through reforms to Medicare over the next 10 years.

Doves say that’s overkill given that the government is already shrinking faster than at any time since the post-World War II military demobilization. “The patient is checking out of the hospital, and the doctors are still planning surgery,” says Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and Vice President Joe Biden’s former chief economist. Echoing a warning the International Monetary Fund issued last summer, Bernstein is concerned the deficit is contracting too fast from all the spending cuts enacted since 2010, including the $1 trillion in cuts President Obama agreed to in 2011. That’s stymied growth. In 8 of the last 10 quarters, the federal government has been a drag on the economy, subtracting 3.25 percentage points from GDP since the fourth quarter of 2010. “We’ve overfocused on the deficit,” Bernstein says. “It’s time to tackle the jobs crisis.”

According to the CBO, the economy is operating 6 percent below its potential, a difference of about $1 trillion this year. For every dollar the economy runs below its optimal level, the deficit rises by 37¢ due to cyclical factors such as lower tax receipts, says Andrew Fieldhouse, a budget policy analyst at the Economic Policy Institute. That’s what’s happened in Europe, where austerity has boosted debt-to-GDP ratios by about 5 percent. “Fiscal stimulus right now would decrease debt to GDP,” Fieldhouse says.

Not everyone thinks Medicare is doomed. Based on lower growth rates in health-care costs since 2010, the CBO cut its estimate for Medicare and Medicaid spending by $162 billion over the next decade. That could change, however, when Obamacare and potentially higher policy premiums go into full effect.

One thing the dip in the deficit has changed is the urgency to reach a deal on long-term debt reduction. Continued gridlock might not be so bad. “The last thing we want is some grand bargain,” says James Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management. He argues that as long as the economy keeps growing, the deficit will continue to trend lower: “Who would you rather put in charge of fixing the country’s finances: Congress or the invisible hand of Adam Smith?”

 

The bottom line: The federal deficit will shrink to $642 billion in 2013, or 4 percent of GDP, less than half the $1.4 trillion shortfall in 2009.

The Danger Of Easy Money and The QE Withdrawl

International Monetary Fund's Managing Directo...
International Monetary Fund’s Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn (L) talks with , European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet (C) and Italy’s Governor Mario Draghi (R) prior to the start of their G-7 meeting at the Istanbul Congress Center (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Top Bankers: Too Much Central Bank Easing Is Becoming Dangerous

And the Stock Rally Is Due to Money-Printing

Everyone knows that “too big to fail” banks are bad for the economy. Indeed, even top bankers themselves say the big banks need to be broken up.

Now, top bankers are saying that the amount of liquidity which the central banks are flooding into the economy is becoming dangerous.

Agence France-Presse reports:

An influential group of leading world banks warned Thursday that central banks are pumping out too much easy money and markets risk becoming dangerously addicted to ultra-low interest rates.

The Institute of International Finance, which groups 450 banks, said that if central banks continue to flood money into the global economy, then any future bid to get it under control could itself destabilize the financial system.

***

“These conditions — quantitative easing, very low interest rates — cannot last forever, but the risk is that financial markets have become addicted to them,” it warned.

“The longer central bank liquidity is relied on to hold things together, the more excesses and distortions are being accumulated in the financial system. An eventual unwinding of these excesses will become a destabilizing risk event.”

***

IIF deputy managing director Hung Tran said that central bankers should be aware of “the unintended consequences of their actions” and make clear how they expect to adjust monetary policy over the long term.

“This would help lessen the risk of large swings in financial markets,” he said.