Bonds

Cook County Residents To Get Hit With Tax Hikes Soon?

For a while now (last time being earlier this week), I told my girlfriend we were lucky to have escaped the fiscal debacle and revenue grab going on in the city of Chicago.

At the same time, I pointed out that as Cook County residents we’re still on the hook for the same type of nonsense.

Brian Slodysko reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website yesterday afternoon:

Hoping to ward off another credit rating downgrade, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said Wednesday that she will soon present a plan to reform the county’s underfunded pension system.

And she’s leaving the door open to hiking property, sales and other taxes.

When asked repeatedly about the possibility of tax increases, Preckwinkle responded: “We’re looking at all the options. Everything is on the table.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Slodysko added later in the piece:

Preckwinkle declined to discuss specifics, but she did say that any plan that goes before the Legislature will not have property tax increase language written into the bill

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Okaaay… so that means Preckwinkle’s not “leaving the door open” to hiking property taxes?

Regardless, based on what I see coming down the line for us, it’s only a matter of time.

Last summer, Cook County saw its bond rating lowered by one of the major credit rating agencies supposedly due to its public pension liabilities. I blogged on August 20, 2013:

In the wake of significantly downgrading the City of Chicago’s credit rating, bond credit rating giant Moody’s Investor Service lowered Cook County’s bond rating a notch last Friday. In a news release from the Moody’s website right before the weekend:

New York, August 16, 2013 — Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded the rating on Cook County’s (IL) general obligation (GO) debt to A1 from Aa3, affecting $3.7 billion of general obligation debt. The outlook remains negative.

SUMMARY RATING RATIONALE

The downgrade of the GO rating reflects Cook County’s growing pension liabilities…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Stay tuned…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Slodysko, Brian. “Preckwinkle won’t rule out tax increase to strike pension deal.” Chicago Sun-Times. 9 Apr. 2014. (http://politics.suntimes.com/article/chicago/preckwinkle-wont-rule-out-tax-increase-strike-pension-deal/wed-04092014-523pm). 10 Apr. 2014.

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Peter Schiff: No Recovery, Just An Illusion Of Prosperity

I first started paying attention to Euro Pacific Capital’s Peter Schiff just prior to picking up his book Crash Proof: How to Profit From the Coming Economic Collapse (now Crash Proof 2.0, second edition) shortly after its early 2007 release. While some of the calls he made in that controversial text are still playing out, others have already come to fruition.

Subsequently, Schiff has been given credit for correctly-calling the U.S. housing bubble and its burst, and the 2008 global economic crisis.

Being one of Survival And Prosperity’s “crash prophets,” his latest investment recommendations are chronicled on this blog. As are his economic analyses and forecasts as well.

Here’s a recent breakdown of what Schiff sees going on with the U.S. economy and larger financial system, courtesy of a March 21 commentary entitled “Debt and Taxes” that’s posted on his Euro Pacific Capital website:

The last few years have proven that there is no line Washington will not cross in order to keep bubbles from popping. Just 10 years ago many of the analysts now crowing about the perfect conditions would have been appalled by policies that have been implemented to create them. The Fed has held interest rates at zero for five consecutive years, it has purchased trillions of dollars of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities, and the Federal government has stimulated the economy through four consecutive trillion-dollar annual deficits. While these moves may once have been looked on as something shocking…now anything goes.

But the new monetary morality has nothing to do with virtue, and everything to do with necessity. It is no accident that the concept of “inflation” has experienced a dramatic makeover during the past few years. Traditionally, mainstream discussion treated inflation as a pestilence best vanquished by a strong economy and prudent bankers. Now it is widely seen as a pre-condition to economic health. Economists are making this bizarre argument not because it makes any sense, but because they have no other choice.

America is trying to borrow its way out of recession. We are creating debt now in order to push up prices and create the illusion of prosperity. To do this you must convince people that inflation is a good thing…even while they instinctively prefer low prices to high. But rising asset prices do little to help the underlying economy. That is why we have been stuck in what some economists are calling a “jobless recovery.” The real reason it’s jobless is because it’s not a real recovery! So while the current booms in stocks and condominiums have been gifts to financial speculators and the corporate elite, average Americans can only watch from the sidewalks as the parade passes them by. That’s why sales of Mercedes and Maseratis are setting record highs while Fords and Chevrolets sit on showroom floors. Rising prices to do not create jobs, increase savings or expand production. Instead all we get is debt, which at some point in the future must be repaid

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Which at some point in the future must be repaid”

Good luck trying to get your average American in 2014 to wrap their head around that crucial concept.

Once again, I agree with Schiff’s observation of what is going on all around us.

“Illusion of prosperity” is a fine choice of words here, and makes sense that I find a fine economic blog by the same name good reading.

As certain as the “Big One” will eventually hit California, so must our nation’s “financial reckoning day” arrive for all this debt we’ve accrued for some short-term “prosperity.”

You can read Schiff’s entire commentary on the Euro Pacific Capital website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Jim Rogers: ‘This Is The Time To Buy Russia’

Investor, author, and financial commentator Jim Rogers has been bullish on Russia for some time now. In fact, by the time I first blogged about his optimism for the country back in February 2013, he had already invested there.

Despite the recent crisis in the Crimea and subsequent sell-off of Russian assets by international investors, the former investing partner of George Soros hasn’t changed his mind about the former Communist nation. Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss and Daniel Bases reported on the Reuters website Sunday:

“Russia’s stock market right now is one of the cheapest in the world, and probably one of the most hated,” said investor and commodities guru Jim Rogers, chairman of Rogers Holdings, in Singapore. “This is the time to buy Russia.”

(Editor: Bold added for emphasis)

Chavez-Dreyfuss and Bases added later in the piece:

Rogers, who has been investing in Russia for the last 1-1/2 years, said he bought Russian stocks last week. He said if more sanctions are imposed and the equities market declines further, there would be more buying opportunities in Russia.

Rogers said he is looking for non-energy companies – a tall order considering the RTS Index of 51 leading Russian companies is heavily skewed toward energy (58 percent of the index) and basic materials (13 percent)…

(Editor: Bold added for emphasis)

In January 2013, the Singapore-based investor identified Russia as one market holding the best prospects for investors. Next month, Rogers made it known he had bought Russian bonds and currency. By September, he revealed he had also bought Russian ETFs, but explained:

I don’t want to buy their oil and gas plays because I own enough oil and gas. I’m looking for other kinds of companies in Russia.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

Source:

Chavez-Dreyfuss, Gertrude and Bases, Daniel. “Analysis: Russia sell-off spurs hunt for bargains.” Reuters.com. 30 Mar. 2014. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/30/us-emergingmarkets-russia-investing-anal-idUSBREA2T03720140330). 31 Mar. 2014.

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Jeremy Grantham: Bonds Dangerous, U.S. Stocks Not In Bubble, Sees Value In Foreign Stocks

I just got finished reading an interview of British-born investment strategist Jeremy Grantham on the Barron’s website. I’ve been so busy lately I haven’t gotten the chance to read his latest investment newsletter, but here’s what the founder and former chairman of Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co. (GMO) is saying these days about bonds, a U.S. stock bubble, and potential investment opportunities out there:

Bonds

They look absolutely, nerve-rackingly overpriced, and in a crisis, who knows what will happen to those securities? They could make stocks look like a safe haven if the next bust occurs at the federal levels of the large countries. Bonds, including government bonds, are a lot more dangerous than people imagine.

U.S. Stock Bubble

We are not even that close to a bubble… They’re 65% overpriced. If they go up another 30%, you would have a true bubble, at which point stocks would be close to twice their fair value. Similarly, in 2000, stocks were more than double their fair value. So they are quite capable of doing that. But my point is that with the professionals getting reinforced by the Fed going back to 1994, it will be very surprising if they don’t keep on playing this game until the market at least hits a classic bubble definition. Bubbles don’t usually stop until sensible investors, value investors, and prudent investors have been hung out to dry and kicked around the block. That hasn’t happened yet, so that tells you there is probably quite a bit left in this rally.

Potential Investment Opportunities

Because of some secondary factors, there are pockets of global equities that haven’t been swept along to anywhere near bubble territory. Emerging markets collectively are selling at very close to fair value. And the value stocks in most of Europe are pretty close to fair value. High-quality stocks in the U.S. are not nearly as bad as the rest of the market. So you can patch together global equities and get a semi-respectable-looking portfolio…

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

You can read the entire interview here on the Barron’s website. It’s a good one.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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BIS: Global Debt Markets Grow To Estimated $100 Trillion In 2013, Up From $70 Trillion In 2007

Last night, I read about global debt markets hitting the $100 trillion-mark.

One word came to my mind at that moment:

Unsustainable.

Branimir Gruić and Andreas Schrimpf wrote “Cross-border investments in global debt markets since the crisis” in the latest BIS Quarterly Review- a report from the Bank of International Settlements (the central bank of central banks). From the publication released Sunday:

Global debt markets have grown to an estimated $100 trillion (in amounts outstanding) in mid-2013 (Graph C, left-hand panel), up from $70 trillion in mid-2007. Growth has been uneven across the main market segments. Active issuance by governments and non-financial corporations has lifted the share of domestically issued bonds, whereas more restrained activity by financial institutions has held back international issuance (Graph C, left-hand panel).

Not surprisingly, given the significant expansion in government spending in recent years, governments (including central, state and local governments) have been the largest debt issuers (Graph C, left-hand panel). They mostly issue debt in domestic markets, where amounts outstanding reached $43 trillion in June 2013, about 80% higher than in mid-2007 (as indicated by the yellow area in Graph C, left-hand panel)…

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

“Not surprisingly, given the significant expansion in government spending in recent years, governments (including central, state and local governments) have been the largest debt issuers”

Gruić and Schrimpf are correct- I’m not surprised.

And regular Survival And Prosperity readers shouldn’t be either, as warnings about reduced government services and new/higher taxes and fees (to deal with all this new debt) have been issued time and time again.

You can read the entire BIS report here (page 22 of the .pdf file/page 18 of the publication contains Gruić and Schrimpf’s findings).

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Moody’s Downgrades Chicago’s Credit Rating Again, Issues Negative Outlook

Just as I was about to blog about prepping tonight I observed the following splashed on the homepage of the Chicago Tribune website:

Chicago credit rating takes major hit

Chicago’s financial standing took a hit Tuesday when a major bond rating agency once again downgraded the city’s credit worthiness…

No surprise there, all things considered. No real effort has been made to tackle Chicago’s financial woes, which led to bond credit rating giant Moody’s Investor Service downgrading the City of Chicago’s general obligation (GO) and sales tax ratings to A3 from Aa3, water and sewer senior lien revenue ratings to A1 from Aa2, and water and sewer second lien revenue ratings to A2 from Aa3 back on July 17, 2013.

After seeing that headline, I decided to head over to Moody’s Investors Service website to check out the latest “Ratings News,” where the following was posted:

Rating Action: Moody’s downgrades Chicago, IL to Baa1 from A3, affecting $8.3 billion of GO and sales tax debt…

Also downgrades water and sewer senior lien revenue bonds to A2 from A1 and second lien revenue bonds to A3 from A2, affecting $3.3 billion of debt; outlook negative for all ratings…

According to Moody’s, “Obligations rated Baa are judged to be medium-grade and subject to moderate credit risk and as such may possess certain speculative characteristics.”

Their Global Credit Research unit added:

The Baa1 rating on Chicago’s GO debt reflects the city’s massive and growing unfunded pension liabilities, which threaten the city’s fiscal solvency absent major revenue and other budgetary adjustments adopted in the near term and sustained for years to come. The size of Chicago’s unfunded pension liabilities makes it an extreme outlier, as indicated by the city’s fiscal 2012 adjusted net pension liability (ANPL) of 8.0 times operating revenue, which is the highest of any rated US local government. While the Illinois General Assembly’s recent passage of pension reforms for the State of Illinois (A3 negative) and the Chicago Park District (CPD) (A1 negative) suggests that reforms may soon be forthcoming for Chicago, we expect that any cost savings of such reforms will not alleviate the need for substantial new revenue and fiscal adjustments in order to meet the city’s long-deferred pension funding needs. We expect that the city’s pension contributions will continue to fall below those based on actuarial standards. The city’s slowly-amortizing debt levels are also large and growing. The Baa1 rating also incorporates credit strengths including Chicago’s large tax base that sits at the center of one of the nation’s most diverse regional economies and the city’s broad legal authority to raise revenue…

You can read the entire Moody’s piece about the downgrade on their website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Chicago Borrows $1.9 Billion, Piling On More Debt ‘For The Children’

“Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed the books on 2011 with $310 million in cash on hand, $167 million more than the year before, but added $465 million to the mountain of debt piled on Chicago taxpayers, year-end audits show…

The new round of borrowing brings Chicago’s total long-term debt to just over $27 billion. That’s $10,000 for every one of the city’s nearly 2.7 million residents. More than a decade ago, the debt load was $9.6 billion or $3,338-per-resident.”

-Chicago Sun-Times website, July 22, 2012

“Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed the books on 2012 with $33.4 million in unallocated cash on hand — down from $167 million the year before — while adding to the mountain of debt piled on Chicago taxpayers, year-end audits show…

The new round of borrowing brings Chicago’s total long-term debt to nearly $29 billion. That’s $10,780 for every one of the city’s nearly 2.69 million residents.”

-Chicago Sun-Times website, July 26, 2013

Chicago keeps piling on massive amounts of debt. From Fran Spielman yesterday on the Chicago Sun-Times website:

Chicago will test the bond market for the first time since its bond rating dropped three notches, thanks to $1.9 billion in borrowings added Monday to the mountain of debt piled on Chicago taxpayers.

The City Council’s Finance Committee authorized two massive borrowings: a $900 million general obligation bond issue to refinance old debt, pay for equipment and capital projects and bankroll $100 million for legal settlements incurred last year and a $1 billion borrowing for Midway Airport.

The Finance Committee also agreed to double — from $500 million to $1 billion — a so-called “commercial paper” program used to cover short-term borrowing between bond deals.

The general obligation bond issue includes $200 million in debt refinancing and $130 million in debt restructuring to “better align revenues with our obligations,” as [Chief Financial Officer Lois] Scott put it.

The so-called “scoop-and-toss” technique will stave off even higher taxes and fees, but it will saddle Chicagoans with another decade of debt that should be paid off today

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s worn-out line “it’s for the children” comes to mind here.

As well as that saying “you can pay now or pay later.”

Which is what Chicagoans will eventually be forced to do when the city’s “financial reckoning day” arrives.

The Chicago Tribune did a pretty good job illustrating just how serious the city’s debt crisis is becoming. Hal Dardick, Heather Gillers, and Jason Grotto reported on the Tribune website yesterday:

In a move that will add to the city’s mountain of debt, Mayor Rahm Emanuel won support Monday from the City Council’s Finance Committee to issue up to $900 million in bonds backed by property taxes.

It’s the largest request put forth during Emanuel’s tenure and comes at a time when Chicago already has about $7 billion in outstanding general obligation debt, more per capita than bankrupt Detroit or any of the 10 biggest U.S. cities except New York

Monday, aldermen asked few questions about the borrowing as the ordinance authorizing the debt sailed through the committee with virtually no debate.

“It raises questions of how much City Council members understand the financial condition of the city and what the plan going forward will be to meet the debt,” said Laurence Msall, president of the nonpartisan Civic Federation budget watchdog group…

The amount of borrowing sought by Emanuel suggests his administration continues to need huge loans to run the city

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

I can’t begin to tell you how depressing it is watching “The Machine” steadily bring the “City of Broad Shoulders” down to its knees. But what does City Hall care? More than likely they’ll have moved on to comfortable retirements or “bigger and better things” by the time the city implodes as a result of “scooping and tossing.”

Ubi Est Mea? (Pulitzer prize-winning newspaper columnist Mike Royko’s suggested Chicago city motto of “Where’s Mine?”)

How about “Not On My Watch,” all things considered?

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Spielman, Fran. “City to borrow $1.9 billion in first test since rating downgrade.” Chicago Sun-Times. 3 Feb. 2014. (http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/25360629-418/city-to-borrow-19-billion-in-first-test-since-rating-downgrade.html). 4 Feb. 2014.

Dardick, Hal, Gillers, Heather, and Grotto, Jason. “Mayor seeks to borrow up to $900 million more.” Chicago Tribune. 3 Feb. 2014. (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-02-03/news/ct-met-bonds-new-chicago-borrowing-20140204_1_tax-increases-city-leaders-finance-committee). 4 Feb. 2014.

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Marc Faber Shares Outlook And Advice At Barron’s 2014 Roundtable

Each year around this time, the weekly financial magazine Barron’s hosts their investor “Roundtable.” Swiss-born money manager and investment advisor Marc Faber was one of the participants in 2014, and starting on January 18 the publication started disseminating the investment advice of Dr. Faber and other Roundtable members. The financial website Zero Hedge zeroed-in on what the publisher of the monthly investment newsletter The Gloom Boom & Doom Report had to say at this year’s Roundtable. According to “Tyler Durden,” Dr. Faber:

• Is bearish on U.S. stocks, and the Russell 2000 in particular. Faber recommended shorting the Russell 2000.
• Is bearish on the U.S. economic recovery, recommending the purchase of 10-year Treasury notes
• Has a lot of cash, has bought Treasury bonds, and has about 20 percent of his net worth in gold. Regarding the precious metal, Faber went so far as to “recommend the Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF [GDXJ], although I don’t own it. I own physical gold because the old system will implode. Those who own paper assets are doomed.”
• Offered up his investment forecast for Asian real estate, India, Vietnam, and Turkey and it’s currency- the Lira

The piece provided good insight into Dr. Faber’s investment outlook and activities, which you can read in its entirety on the Zero Hedge website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Chicago’s Finances A Mess For 2014 And Beyond

The beginning of the new year is always a popular time for predictions.

Here’s one I’ve heard being uttered with more regularity lately:

“Chicago’s the next Detroit”

You may recall that back on December 3, the City of Detroit officially became the largest municipality in U.S. history to enter Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

I’m guessing those making that comment presume the “Windy City” is going to be bankrupt too.

I just got done reading another comparison to Detroit being made again. This time it’s from TheStreet.com, the U.S. financial news and services website co-founded by Jim Cramer, host of CNBC’s Mad Money. Jonathan Yates wrote on December 30:

A recent report by the Economist Intelligence Unit rated Chicago one of the top 10 cities in the world for its ability to “attract capital, business, talent and tourists.”

Although that certainly will focus global attention on “The Second City,” Chicago’s precarious financial condition could result in it becoming even more well known — for going broke…

At least Detroit had an excuse with the collapse of the automobile industry.

The major reason for Chicago’s financial woes is mismanagement. The city’s employee costs, especially for pensions, are unsustainable…

Yates, a contributor to TheStreet.com, suggests investors avoid Chicago bonds. He pointed out later in his piece:

Chicago is a great city with great restaurants, great museums and great architecture.

But those are not reasons to buy its bonds, because Chicago’s finances are a mess, and that won’t change anytime soon…

“Chicago’s finances are a mess, and that won’t change anytime soon…”

Sadly, I agree with him there.

Now, Yates mentioned Chicago’s public pension crisis. Back on August 5, The New York Times highlighted just how serious a threat it is to the city’s well-being. Monica Davey and Mary Williams Walsh reported on the Times website:

Corporations are moving in, and housing prices are looking better across the region. There has been a slight uptick in population. But a crushing problem lurks beneath the signs of economic recovery in Chicago: one of the most poorly funded pension systems among the nation’s major cities. Its plight threatens to upend the finances of President Obama’s hometown, now run by his former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.

The pension fund for retired Chicago teachers stands at risk of collapse. The city’s four funds for other retired city workers are short by $19.5 billion. At least one of the funds is in peril of running out of money in less than a decade. And starting in 2015, the city will be required by the state to make far larger contributions to the funds, which could leave it hundreds of millions of dollars in the red — as much as it would cost to pay 4,300 police officers to patrol the streets for a year

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Rick Lyman of the Times added on December 4:

Under state law, the city must increase its contributions to its workers’ pension funds by $590 million in 2015, to a total annual contribution of $1.4 billion for current and future retirees. If no pension deal can be reached by November of next year, when the city will draft its next budget, the city will either have to raise taxes or cut services or some combination of both

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

City Hall and their supporters can spin Chicago’s growing financial crisis as much as they want. But at the end of the day, they’ve got all the above problems to contend with as well as a long-term debt that’s now up to nearly $29 billion, or $10,780 for every city resident, according to the latest City of Chicago official audit.

I became aware of the extent of Chicago’s financial woes a couple of years back.

It’s a big reason why my girlfriend and I moved out of the city when we did.

I’ve been warning about this debacle for some time now on this blog. I can only hope my Chicago-based readers have taken note of it and are at least thinking about how they might minimize their exposure to the coming mess.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Yates, Jonathan. “Avoid Chicago’s Bonds; It Could Be the Next Detroit.” TheStreet.com. 30 Dec. 2013. (http://www.thestreet.com/story/12188473/1/avoid-chicagos-bonds-it-could-be-the-next-detroit.html). 3 Jan. 2014.

Davey, Monica and Walsh, Mary Williams. “Chicago Sees Pension Crisis Drawing Near.” The New York Times. 5 Aug. 2013. (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/06/us/chicago-sees-pension-crisis-drawing-near.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0&src=me). 3 Jan. 2014.

Lyman, Rick. “Chicago Pursues Deal to Change Pension Funding.” The New York Times. 4 Dec. 2013. (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/05/us/chicago-pursues-deal-to-change-pension-funding.html?_r=0). 3 Jan 2014.

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Peter Schiff Bashes QE, Taper Lite, Gold Bears

“Gold Set for Worst Annual Tumble Since ‘81”

-FOX Business website headline, December 23, 2013

“Gold’s safe-haven role is over: strategist”

-MarketWatch.com headline, December 23, 2013

“I wouldn’t buy gold with my worst enemy’s cash: Strategist”

-CNBC.com headline, December 22, 2013

Not only have I been waiting to hear Euro Pacific Capital CEO Peter Schiff’s take on last week’s “taper” of the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing program, but also his opinion on the latest bout of gold selling.

Schiff, who correctly called the recent housing crash and 2008 global economic crisis, just uploaded a new entry to The Schiff Report, his YouTube video blog. Schiff told viewers on December 20:

We have never had more stimulus- both monetary and fiscal- than we have right now. This is record-breaking, Keynesian stimulus. And it’s barely working. Yes, it’s inflating a stock market bubble. It’s inflating a real estate bubble. But it’s not creating genuine economic growth. And it never will. It is not raising living standards for the vast majority of Americans. And it isn’t creating productive, high-paying jobs. And it never will. And Ben Bernanke doesn’t understand that.

Like fellow “crash prophet” Marc Faber, Schiff believes the Federal Reserve will eventually pursue more, not less, bond-buying in the future. He explained:

Why did gold sell off? “Because everything is great.” “Because the Fed has done the impossible.” “It’s tapered and it hasn’t hurt anything.” This is what everybody believes. That the Fed has accomplished its goal. It hasn’t done anything. It’s talked about doing a tiny bit. But again, as far as I’m concerned, monetary policy is even easier now than it was before they announced this trivial taper lite. And the rest of the taper is probably never going to happen because the Fed is going to have to buy more bonds, not fewer bonds, to keep this whole house of cards from imploding.

Now, is gold going to continue to fall? I don’t know. My gut is that it’s probably still finding a bottom around 1,200. There is plenty of legitimate support for gold all around the world. Yes, all the speculators who are convinced that everything is great. The same people that thought it was great in 2007. Or it was great in 1999. That crowd, completely clueless about actual economics, is convinced that there is no reason to own gold. And so, they’re going to sell it, they’re going to short it. But there is a larger community around the world, particularly I think a lot of the emerging markets, central banks, China in particular, that see it differently. And they’re using this opportunity to buy as much gold as they can so that when the speculators and the investors figure out how wrong they’ve got it, and they realize that they need to be buying gold not selling it, there won’t be any gold left to buy because they would have already sold it. And the people who bought it from them aren’t going to sell it back. The gold that China bought- they’re never going to sell it. I don’t care how high the price of gold goes. They want that gold as reserves for their currency because they know the dollars that they have in reserve are eventually going to be Monopoly money. It’s going to be confetti. So they need something real to back up their own currency, and they want gold.

And so, I think that we need to be taking advantage of this opportunity. And don’t be worried about all the negativity that’s out there and all the professionals who are writing gold’s obituary. They’ve written it before, they’ll write it again. But I still think that the bull market has a long way to go. Ultimately, we are still heading for a currency crisis.


“Taper Lite: Bernanke Tightens Monetary Policy by Easing it!”
YouTube Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Marc Faber Predicts ‘Tapered’ QE Will Rebound, Go ‘Substantially Higher’

Okay- time to talk money and investing this week. Swiss-born investment advisor and fund manager Marc Faber appeared on CNBC’s Futures Now last Tuesday and talked about the future of the Federal Reserve’s now $75 billion monthly bond-buying program. “Doctor Doom” predicted:

They will never end QE for good. They will continue. But the programs, once they are introduced- they usually keep on going. They may do some cosmetic adjustments. But in my view, within a few years, the asset purchases will be substantially higher than they are today.

The editor/publisher of the monthly investment newsletter The Gloom Boom & Doom Report added later:

Economic recovery, or so-called recovery, by June of next year will be in the fifth year of the recovery. So at some stage the economy will weaken again, and at that point, the Fed will argue, “Well, we haven’t done enough, we have to do more.”


“Marc Faber: The Fed will never end QE”
CNBC Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Peter Schiff Predicts Effect On Consumers When Bond, Stock, And Real Estate Bubbles Pop

Anyone catch Euro Pacific Capital’s CEO and Chief Global Strategist Peter Schiff on FOX Business Network’s The Willis Report back on November 27?

I just saw it for the first time the other day. Host Gerri Willis began the segment by talking about recent upbeat economic reports, to which Schiff replied:

You know, Alan Greenspan actually came out today and proclaimed that there was no bubble in the stock market. And he ought to know, right? Because he’s 0 for 2 when it comes to spotting bubbles. I think it’s 3 strikes and he’s out.

Ouch. A close second for my earlier “Quote For The Week” post.

The “crash prophet” added:

Because not only is there a bubble in the stock market. But the Fed has managed to make bubbles in the stock market, the bond market, and the real estate market simultaneously. That’s a lot of bubbles for the Fed to juggle.

Later on in the segment, Schiff, who correctly predicted the recent housing market crash and 2008 economic crisis, told Willis the U.S. dollar “is eventually going to get hit hard.” The host asked:

What will I feel as a consumer?

Schiff answered:

When the Fed is ultimately forced to raise interest rates- yes, we’ll have a big drop in the stock market, a big drop in the real estate market, we’ll be back in a severe recession, and it’s going to be tough. Prices are also going to go up for consumer goods, because a weak dollar means consumer goods are more expensive, But ultimately if the Fed has to protect the weak dollar with rate hikes, then your assets go down in value. But the price of everything you need to buy goes up.

Not a pretty scenario at all for American consumers if Schiff is correct once again.


“Holding the Dollar Could be Riskier Than Stocks”
YouTube Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Marc Faber: ‘We Are In A Gigantic Speculative Bubble’

Swiss-born investment advisor and fund manager Marc Faber issued another warning about stocks being in a bubble this past Friday. Appearing on CNBC’s Squawk Box, “Doctor Doom” told viewers:

I’ve been quite positive for equities after 2009 when they became very cheap. But recently I have to say that we are once again in a massive financial bubble in bonds, in equities. We are in a bubble in asset prices that have gone up dramatically. Farmland is up ten times over the last ten years. And Bitcoins are up now. And who knows what next will go up. But, we are in a gigantic speculative bubble. And as I have said, I haven’t shorted any stocks yet because they may still move up. But I don’t see any value in stocks any longer, except very few sectors…

So I think that financial assets, if you look at the next five to ten years’ expected returns, but these returns will be very low.

Now can the market go up another twenty percent before it tumbles? Yeah, it can go up even more, if you print money.


“Marc Faber: No value in stocks”
CNBC Video

Dr. Faber, who became famous for advising clients to get out of the U.S. stock market one week before the October 1987 crash, also warned of a bubble in financial assets on CNBC’s Fast Money on November 19. He said:

I see a bubble in everything that relates to the financial sector. We have a bubble in bonds. We have a bubble in low-quality bonds. We have a bubble in equities. If you look at the financial sector as a percentage of the global economy, it’s very large. We have a huge debt bubble, and it’s only getting bigger. It’s not getting any smaller.

So we are the bubble. Everything that is in the financial sector is the bubble, and it’s been pumped up by central banks.

I don’t know about you, but talk about bubbles seems to be growing these days.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

Source:

Navarro, Bruno J., “Superbear Marc Faber sees opportunities.” CNBC. 19 Nov. 2013. (http://www.cnbc.com/id/101212211). 1 Dec. 2013.

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Marc Faber Sees Bubbles In Bonds, Stocks, Debt, And High-End Sector

While “crash prophet” Jeremy Grantham sees only a “few signs yet of a traditional bubble” in stocks, “Doctor Doom” Marc Faber thinks otherwise.

In fact, the Swiss-born investment advisor and fund manager sees the whole financial sector as being very bubbly these days.

Faber appeared on CNBC’s Fast Money last Tuesday and warned viewers:

I see a bubble in everything that relates to the financial sector. We have a bubble in bonds. We have a bubble in low-quality bonds. We have a bubble in equities. If you look at the financial sector as a percentage of the global economy, it’s very large. We have a huge debt bubble, and it’s only getting bigger. It’s not getting any smaller.

So we are the bubble. Everything that is in the financial sector is the bubble, and it’s been pumped up by central banks.

Now within the big bubble, I think the high-end sector is probably a huge bubble. You know- pink diamonds, the prestige art, and luxury.


“Uber bear Marc Faber gets a little bullish”
CNBC Video

The editor/publisher of the monthly investment newsletter The Gloom Boom & Doom Report revealed he owned stocks in European telecom companies, utilities, and blue-chip companies in Switzerland.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

Source:

Navarro, Bruno J., “Superbear Marc Faber sees opportunities.” CNBC. 19 Nov. 2013. (http://www.cnbc.com/id/101212211). 25 Nov. 2013.

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Chicago’s Debt Crisis Finally Gets Major Exposure

Early Sunday morning, I mozied on down to the end of my driveway to pick up my Chicago Tribune. After eating a little breakfast, I busted out the paper and saw the following headline in big, bold letters on the front page:

City’s debt splurge: ‘It’s like a cancer’

Well, it’s about time Chicago’s debt crisis gets major exposure in a mainstream media outlet.

Of course, Survival And Prosperity readers have known about this growing debacle for some time now (a big hat tip goes out to Fran Spielman over at the Chicago Sun-Times). Back in July 2012 I noted Chicago’s long-term debt was over $27 billion. This July, I blogged that this figure was now up to nearly $29 billion, or $10,780 for every city resident ($780 more per Chicagoan in just one year). So the debt splurge wasn’t just a feature of the Daley regime.

Regarding that Tribune piece, Patricia Callahan, Heather Gillers, and Jason Grotto reported:

A reckless pattern of borrowing by city leaders has undermined Chicago’s future by ignoring the most basic tenets of municipal finance and piling billions of dollars of debt onto the shoulders of future generations, a Tribune investigation has found.

Chicago officials abused a powerful financial tool intended to build for the future — issuance of bonds backed by property taxes — as they spent nearly $10 billion in 13 years with few restrictions and virtually no oversight.

The Tribune’s unprecedented examination of city finances reveals that Chicago built mountains of long-term debt from thousands of problematic short-term purchases including software that was soon obsolete, spare parts for vehicles and items you might find on a weekend shopping list: trash bins, flowers, even bags for dog waste…

When the Tribune analyzed $9.8 billion in proceeds from general obligation bonds issued from 2000 to 2012, it found that nearly half of the money went to paper over growing budget problems.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Any doubts I still may have had about Chicago being in serious financial trouble were dispelled when I read that last bit about half the bond money going to “paper over growing budget problems.”

As to the culprits in this financial caper? Callahan, Gillers, and Grotto added:

Most of Chicago’s debt woes can be traced to the long reign of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, but the borrowing he relied on so heavily has continued under Rahm Emanuel as his administration gropes for ways to deal with the financial problems it inherited…

There is no limit on the city’s general obligation debt, and the sole check and balance is the City Council, a body that rarely pushes back on major mayoral decisions. Since 2007, aldermen have authorized $7.6 billion in general obligation bond issuances without a single dissenting vote. And each year they get millions in bond proceeds to dole out for projects in their wards.

While it would be easy to blame Richie Daley, Rahm Emanuel, and the alderpeople for this big mess, at the end of the day, many Chicagoans need only look into the mirror to see who’s really to blame for letting the city’s finances get this far out of hand.

As to what “Windy City” residents might want to do now seeing that “a reckless pattern of borrowing by city leaders has undermined Chicago’s future”? Perhaps start looking at ways to mitigate the current and coming damage- something I’ll be talking more about in the months to come.

A good place to begin would be read the article to get a sense of how bad the problem really is, which can be found on the Chicago Tribune website here.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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