Last year, 2008, I spent the months of March, April, May, June & July bombarding you with emails imploring you to bombard your congressman with phone calls, letters, faxes and emails. The reason for my alarm was the financial time-bomb that was ticking and that I hoped Congress would have the courage and foresight to defuse. In July, Congress ignored us and voted to gift $800 billion to "bail out" Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That was the point that I realized the game was over. The American government was no longer "of the people, by the people and for the people". We had told Congress - by a ratio of 300:1 - not to bail out Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, and they ignored us. I could no longer ignore the reality that Congress was owned by the bankers.
I quit sending out updates at the point because I could not imagine wasting any more energy trying to get Congress to do the right thing. And I am glad I didn't because it would have been a waste of energy. Washington is owned by the bankers, and Washington does whatever the bankers say. I don't even feel a need to explain that assertion. If it is not obvious, then you are not paying attention.
That brings me to the substance of this letter.
As some of you know, I make my living as a trader. I'm involved in the markets all day, every day, and I spend most of my spare time in research, hoping to understand what is happening in the world that will affect my work. I love what I do. What I have recently begun to realize is that most of you do not have the time or the inclination to study what I study, and yet your lives are likely to be affected by the things I am discovering. For that reason, I have decided to do a weekly update of the news that I think is important for you to know and an analysis of why it is important. This is my view, my opinions, and is certainly subject to my own biases, so "Handle With Care".
I hope you enjoy it. If you don't want to get these updates, just drop me a line and I will remove you from the list. On the other hand, if you DO enjoy them, please let me know and always feel free to pass them along to others.
Headlines of the Week
Italian Border Patrol Confiscates $134 Billion
What It Is: Two men carrying Japanese passports tried to smuggle $134 billion in US Government Bonds into Switzerland from Italy. The US press has not reported this story. Conflicting reports on whether the bonds are real or counterfeit.
Why It Matters 1: $134B is an amount of money so large that only governments, the World Bank and the IMF would deal in those. If this is stolen, then what in the world is wrong with these governments or banks that they can't keep track of their investments? If it is not stolen, then why was it being smuggled into Switzerland?
Why It Matters 2: If they are counterfeit, it means that there are more counterfeit bonds out there, which could de-stabilize the already precarious bond market. If they are real, it means someone is trying to unload US Government bonds without selling them through the open market process, which could destabilize the already precarious bond market.
What It Means To The World: Big bond holders are worried that the US may default on its debt. Japan this week made a formal announcement that they are fully confident that the US will pay its debts. This is code for, "we are very worried about the US paying its debts."
What It Means to You: The cost of credit just took another body blow. If you are trying to buy or re-finance a house, the window to get a low-interest rate loan is closing fast. If you are trying to get a business loan, either for new credit or to roll over an existing loan, the cost of credit is going higher and higher. This is going to work against the government's attempt to goose the economy.
Government possibly interfering in the market via State Street
What It Is: An unsubstantiated report that the government has opened several private trading accounts with State Street Securities and is buying and selling securities through a single broker there.
Why It Matters: If true, it means the government is using government money to speculate in the market. Because of the nature of the account, the type of broker that State Street is and - most importantly - the amount of money the government has available to it, then the government is not merely speculating, it is directly influencing the market.
What It Means to the World: Nothing until substantiated, but could be very, very important if proven true.
What It Means to You: Nothing yet, but watch it.
Federal Reserve Transparency Act has 222 Sponsors
What It Is: A Ron Paul-sponsored bill to conduct a pricvate audit of the Federal Reserve.
Why It Matters: In theory, an audit of the Fed will show how their money is being used. The belief is that the Fed is violating its charter by buying and selling securities that are not 100% backed by the full faith and credit of the US government.
What It Means to the World: Nothing. The Congress will do whatever the bankers tell them to do. Even if this passes, nothing will change. Congress will not bite the hand that feeds it.
What It Means to You: You should learn to watch what the government does rather than listen to what they say. The government works hand-in-hand with the bankers. Ron Paul has his heart in the right place, and this makes for good political theatre, but Congress had the chance to do something meaningful last summer when we bombarded them with requests to not bail-out Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac. They instead obeyed their masters on Wall Street. Do not expect the government to do ANYTHING that harms the big bankers.
Government Overturns Contract Law in GM & Chrysler Bankruptcies
What It Is: The government ignored contract law when they compelled GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy. Senior debt holders who - under the terms of contract law - should have been first in line to be paid under the bankruptcy, were pushed to the back of the line and will get something like 17 cents on the dollar for their investment.
Why It Matters: The sanctity of private property and contracts is central to the functioning of a free society. This action by the government strikes at the heart of our free society. It also provides a disincentive for future investors to put their money into bonds for fear that the terms of the bond contract will be overthrown if the government deems it "necessary".
What It Means to the World: Investors will be far less likely to buy bonds issued by any company or municipality that has the slightest whiff of instability for fear that the government will simply ignore the law and trash the contract if they think it necessary. This will serve to drive the cost of credit higher, it will reduce the pool of available credit, and it will drive down the value of existing municipal and corporate debt.
What It Means to You: If you hold any sort of corporate or municipal bonds in your investment portfolio, you should find out exactly what those bonds are. If they are bonds backing any sort of entity that is at risk, you should consider moving into something less at risk of government intervention.
One Trillion Dollar Bill - Not news but funny