Defaults

IMF Statement On Greece

The Greek sovereign debt crisis has now entered a new, more disturbing phase. From an International Monetary Fund press release Tuesday night:

Statement by the IMF on Greece
Press Release No.15/310
June 30, 2015

Mr. Gerry Rice, Director of Communications at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), made the following statement today regarding Greece’s financial obligations to the IMF due today:

I confirm that the SDR 1.2 billion repayment (about EUR 1.5 billion) due by Greece to the IMF today has not been received. We have informed our Executive Board that Greece is now in arrears and can only receive IMF financing once the arrears are cleared.

“I can also confirm that the IMF received a request today from the Greek authorities for an extension of Greece’s repayment obligation that fell due today, which will go to the IMF’s Executive Board in due course.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

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

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Tuesday, June 30th, 2015 Debt Crisis, Defaults, Europe No Comments

Peter Schiff Advises Americans, Greeks: ‘Don’t Hold On To Dollars, Just Like You’re Not Going To Hold On To Drachma’

Tuesday, the CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, Peter Schiff, compared Greece’s financial situation with what’s going on in the United States. From his April 14 SchiffGold “Gold Videocast” entry on YouTube.com:

The only difference between Greece and the United States is the perception of our creditors. Because we are just as broke. We have borrowed more money than we can repay. Not only have we borrowed it like Greece, and we owe over $18 trillion when it comes to the national debt- the bonds that have been issued where we actually owe principal and interest payments. But just like Greece politicians, American politicians have made all sorts of promises to everybody to get votes. And there’s nothing that’s going to stop the U.S. government from repaying its commitments in worthless money. Just like there’s nothing that’s going to stop the Greeks once they get the Euro out of the way, and go back to the drachma…

And when the dollar collapses, and prices skyrocket, it’s not going to do any good if the government kept its promise in money that doesn’t buy anything. So I would give the same advice today to Americans as I would for Greeks:

Don’t hold on to dollars, just like you’re not going to hold on to drachma. Turn your dollars into something else, something of real, tangible value, that the government can’t create out of thin air. And I think the best choice would be gold. Gold or silver can retain their purchasing power in the face of government default through inflation.


“Greece and the Euro Breakup; Why the US Dollar Is Facing an Even Bigger Crisis”
YouTube Video

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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Bill Introduced To Permit Illinois Municipalities To File For Bankruptcy

Since I started blogging about a U.S. financial crash back on Memorial Day Weekend 2007, I’ve believed one casualty will be municipal government. Particularly in Illinois. So imagine my non-surprise when I spotted an article on the Chicago Tribune website a couple of days ago about proposed legislation at the state level granting Illinois towns the authority to file for bankruptcy. Nick Swedberg of the Associated Press wrote on March 26:

Stressed by pension debt, other financial issues and the possibility losing a chunk of their state aid, some Illinois cities want the option to file for bankruptcy. They’ve found an ally in a Republican lawmaker, who’s proposed legislation to allow municipalities to follow in the footsteps of Detroit and other cities in restructuring debt and paying back creditors…

Rep. Ron Sandack is sponsoring legislation that would grant authority for communities to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 9 of the federal code. The Downers Grove Republican says it’s a “measure of last resort,” especially with Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposal in next year’s budget to cut in half the local governments’ share of state income taxes by 50 percent.

“It’s just giving time and space to do things right,” he said…

Swedberg added later in the piece:

Municipal bankruptcies are rare, NCSL data shows. Of 37 local government filings since 2010, only 8 were cities, with the majority filed by utilities and special districts.

Detroit filed for the nation’s largest municipal bankruptcy in July 2013, looking to restructure $12 billion of debt…

It’s true. Municipal bankruptcies haven’t happened too often. But keep in mind what Eric Weiner wrote on the NPR website back on February 28, 2008:

For most of U.S. history, cities and towns were not eligible for bankruptcy protection. But during the Great Depression, more than 2,000 municipalities defaulted on their debt, and they pleaded with President Roosevelt for a federal bailout. “All they got was sympathy,” reported Time magazine in 1933. Instead, Roosevelt pushed through changes to the bankruptcy laws that allows towns and cities to file for bankruptcy. They even got their own section of the bankruptcy code: Chapter Nine…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

There’s also this from Robert Slavin on The Bond Buyer website back on January 14:

For the municipal bond industry, 2015 marks the midpoint in what may turn out to be the decade of the bankruptcy.

Four of the five largest municipal bankruptcy filings in United States history have been made in roughly the last three years, a trend analysts attribute to the aftereffects of the 2008 credit crisis and Great Recession, as well as changing attitudes about debt.

“The crash of 2008 and five years of stagnation preceded by years of escalating wages, pensions and Other Post-Employment Benefits set the stage for our recent Chapter 9 filings,” said Arent Fox partner David Dubrow.

Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy was adopted in 1937 but had been rarely used, particularly by large governments. However, since November 2011 San Bernardino, Calif., Stockton, Calif., Jefferson County, Ala., and Detroit have filed four of the five largest bankruptcies as measured by total obligations.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Could the specter of Meredith Whitney, the “Diva Of Doom,” be returning to take revenge on the municipal bond industry?

I’m not surprised Illinois municipalities would be interested in House Bill 298. From Patrick Rehkamp and Andrew Schroedter on the website of the Chicago-based Better Government Association back on December 6, 2014:

Reasons for filing vary but often include troubled public development projects, unanticipated hefty legal judgments against a taxpayer-backed entity, or massive pension and bond debt payments that leave a municipality cash-strapped and unable to cover operating costs of employee salaries, vendor payments and other expenses.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The public pension crisis in Chicago and Illinois has been well-publicized for some time now. And while such entitlements are supposedly protected by a provision in the 1970 Illinois Constitution, the BGA noted in their piece:

In Illinois, public employee pensions are guaranteed by the state constitution. But in the Detroit and Stockton, California bankruptcy cases, federal judges have ruled that pension benefits can be adjusted, the same as other debts, despite a constitutional guarantee.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

You can track the progress of HB 298 on the Illinois General Assembly website here.

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

Sources:

Swedberg, Nick. “Bill pushes for possible municipal bankruptcies in Illinois.” Associated Press. 29 Mar. 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-bc-il–closer-look-bankruptcy-20150329-story.html). 3 Apr. 2015.

Weiner, Eric. “What Happens When City Hall Goes Bankrupt?” NPR. 28 Feb. 2008. (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=60740288). 3 Apr. 2015.

Slavin, Robert. “Why So Many Big Bankruptcies?” The Bond Buyer. 14 Jan. 2015. (http://www.bondbuyer.com/news/markets-buy-side/why-so-many-big-bankruptcies-1069539-1.html). 3 Apr. 2015.

Rehkamp, Patrick and Schroedter, Andrew. “Next Up: Illinois Municipal Bankruptcy?” Better Government Association. 16 Dec. 2014. (http://www.bettergov.org/next_up_illinois_municipal_bankruptcy/). 4 Apr. 2015.

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Peter Schiff: ‘We Have An Entire Economy That Is Supported On A Foundation Of Bubbles’

Tonight I watched Peter Schiff’s presentation at the MoneyShow Las Vegas back on May 12, 2014. The CEO and Chief Global Strategist of Euro Pacific Capital shared his current assessment of the U.S. financial landscape in “Too Big to Bail: Why the Next Financial Crisis Will Be Worse Than the Last”- as well as where he thinks we’re heading. Schiff warned attendees:

There is no economic recovery in the United States at all. There is no evidence of an economic recovery. The U.S. economy is in far worse shape than it was on the eve of the 2008 financial crisis. We have never been in as worse shape as we are right now. But they say, “Whoa! But the stock market went up.” Yeah, of course the stock market went up. You print enough money, you can make the stock market go up. Yes, the Federal Reserve succeeded in reflating the stock market bubble. But that’s all that it did. That isn’t evidence of a strong economy. Stock prices went up from 2002 to 2007. Does that mean we had a sound economy? No. We were on the verge of a complete implosion. The main difference though between the stock market bubble that we have today and the one that blew up, let’s say, in 2000, is that fewer individuals are participating. This is the bubble for the 1 percent. This is for the hedge funds, the private equity guys… The overwhelming concentration of buyers are very wealthy people. The average American is not participating in the stock market to the extent that he was in the 1990s. And so the Fed is not getting the boost to consumption that you would normally have from the wealth effect because a lot of people aren’t feeling the effects of the wealth because they don’t own stocks.

The same thing is happening in the real estate bubble, which the Fed has managed to reflate. The difference again between the real estate bubble we have now and the real estate bubble that popped in 2007 is again- the average American isn’t participating. Home ownership rates are at 19-year lows. You have hedge funds and private equity companies that are buying up real estate. Last month, I think 43 percent of all the properties purchased in America were purchased for cash. These are not typical Americans buying houses to live in. These are investors buying houses to flip, buying houses to rent out. This is not a healthy market. It is an extremely speculative real estate market thanks to the Federal Reserve.

So the Federal Reserve has managed to reflate two bubbles simultaneously.

And of course, the biggest bubble of them all is the bubble in the bond market.

So we have an entire economy that is supported on a foundation of bubbles…


“Peter Schiff at Las Vegas Moneyshow 2014”
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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Pandemic Tops Global Insurance Executive Rankings Of ‘Extreme’ Risks To Their Industry

Here’s an interesting piece I stumbled upon this morning while searching for some pandemic-related material out in cyberspace. Caitlin Bronson reported on the website of Insurance Business (America) this morning:

A global pandemic, a widespread natural disaster and a food/water/energy crisis are the top three extreme risks threatening the insurance industry in the near future, a Towers Watson survey of global insurance industry executives reveals.

The survey—part of Towers Watson’s biennial analysis Extreme Risks—asked more than 30,000 top executives to rate very rare events that would have a large impact on global economic growth and the insurance sector.

In addition to health, weather and technological risks, the insurance executives also saw financial disasters as having a large role to play in the future of the insurance industry. An economic depression, a banking crisis and a default by a major sovereign borrower were all listed in the executives’ top 10 concerns…

It’s a short, insightful read (I wonder if the insurance industry is any good at forecasting major crises/disasters?), and the article can be viewed in its entirety on the Insurance Business (America) website here.

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

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Peter Schiff: U.S. Will Become Either Greece Or Weimar Germany

“It’s hard to imagine what the country will look like when the dollar crashes. But one thing is certain; it will bear little resemblance to the America we know today.”

-Peter Schiff, CEO and Chief Global Strategist of Euro Pacific Capital, in an interview posted on The Daily Caller website, October 17, 2013

Yesterday we heard from two “crash prophets”– Dr. Marc Faber and Jim Rogers on finance and investing. Today, I want to bring up a third “prophet”- Euro Pacific Capital’s Peter Schiff- and talk about an interview he just did with Faith Braverman over at The Daily Caller website. Posted last Thursday, Braverman asked Schiff- who correctly predicted the U.S. housing crash and “Panic of ’08”- about what Americans should be on the lookout for as the real U.S. financial crash draws closer. Schiff advised:

You gotta follow the foreign exchange market, the value of the dollar vs. foreign currencies. The Federal Reserve keeps buying bonds to keep interest rates from rising. We have no choice but to default if creditors want their money back. If interest rates go up, we can’t afford that. That is why the Fed feels that it has to keep interest rates down at all costs. So the Federal Reserve prints more money to buy up bonds. That puts pressure on the dollar. Foreign central banks than buy those dollars to prevent their currencies form rising, which imposes costs on their own population, as they are forced to absorb our inflation.

There will be big spikes in commodity prices, like energy and food. Ultimately, we will be forced to make even bigger cuts than the ones we would have made now had the debt ceiling not been raised. Then we’ll be Greece, essentially. If we refuse, and keep spending, and the Fed prints even more money to buy the bonds no one else will buy, we’ll destroy the dollar and then we’ll be Weimar Germany. When the dollar collapses, what does that mean? Hyperinflation means you will have nothing. Your life savings will be worth nothing. We’re celebrating solving the debt ceiling, but we’ve only kicked the can down the road and removed the barrier between us and fiscal responsibility.

Later on in the exchange, the former U.S. Senate candidate suggested Americans should “get gold, silver, foreign assets, and buy up things that will have value after the dollar crashes.”

Braverman did a nice job on this interview, which can be read in its entirety on The Daily Caller website here.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
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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Back To Blogging

It’s back to work over here at Survival And Prosperity this dreary Wednesday morning in the Chicagoland area. I had planned on publishing new material Monday, but decided to extend my “vacation” out a little bit longer. I apologize if you were checking for new posts earlier this week.

During my time away from the blog, I was able to attend to a number of tasks that needed my immediate attention. But it wasn’t “all work and no play.” I got the chance to spend a couple of days at my family’s place in southeast Wisconsin near the end of the break. The weather was terrific, the locally-brewed beer plentiful, and the Northern Pike and Largemouth Bass were biting. My cousin and I managed to haul in some really nice-sized fish. Which is why I extended my stay longer than originally planned.

Two things come to mind now when thinking about that long weekend in Wisconsin:

First, I noticed the gun section at the local hardware store had a lot more ammunition on the shelves from the last time I was there. Another sign the ammo shortage is easing up?

Second, it was nice to “Escape to Wisconsin” and breathe in some “freedom.” In my opinion, Wisconsin is heading in the right direction. Illinois… not so much. As each day goes by, the “Land of Lincoln” continues to be transformed into a Big Government Nanny State, highlighted by more/higher taxes, more/higher fees, and increasing controls forced upon the populace. Sadly enough, many of my neighbors seem to be okay with this. Especially here in the Chicago area.

Coupled with the huge financial woes facing the City of Chicago, Cook County, and State of Illinois- an ugly ending looks to be in store for us. At the very least, Illinoisans will be busting their wallets out en masse to deal with the debt debacle.

And while our nice new house in the Chicago suburbs that I worked on quite a bit the last two weeks is fine and all, I continue to warn my girlfriend that our future permanent residence looks to be outside of the state.

It’s a real shame it might have to come to that.

Back to our regularly-scheduled blogging. And wondering if incompetency trumps political theater in causing a national debt default in the coming hours.

Christopher E. Hill
Editor

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U.S. Treasury: Debt Limit Reached By Mid-October

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew warned Congress yesterday that the United States will hit its $16.7 trillion debt ceiling in mid-October. Lew wrote in a letter addressed to Speaker of the House John Boehner:

I am writing to provide additional information regarding the Treasury Department’s ability to continue to finance the government, and the extraordinary measures we have undertaken in order to avoid default. On May 17, I wrote to inform you that the U.S. government has reached the statutory debt limit and had begun to implement extraordinary measures. As I stated in that letter, Congress should act as soon as possible to protect America’s good credit by extending normal borrowing authority well before any risk of default becomes imminent.

Based on our latest estimates, extraordinary measures are projected to be exhausted in the middle of October. At that point, the United States will have reached the limit of its borrowing authority, and Treasury would be left to fund the government with only the cash we have on hand on any given day. The cash balance at that time is currently forecasted to be approximately $50 billion…

You can read Secretary Lew’s entire letter on the Treasury Department’s website here (.pdf file).

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

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U.S. Reaches $16.4 Trillion Debt Limit

You may have been distracted by events related to New Year’s Day and negotiations over the “fiscal cliff” to notice that the United States reached its authorized debt ceiling of $16.394 trillion on New Year’s Eve. Rich Barbieri and Jeanne Sahadi reported on the CNN Money website Monday morning:

It’s official: U.S. debt reached its legal borrowing limit Monday, giving Congress about two months before it must raise the debt ceiling or risk causing the government to default on its bills and financial obligations.

“I can confirm we will reach the statutory debt limit today, Dec. 31,” a Treasury Department official said Monday.

As for increasing the nation’s debt ceiling yet again, U.S. President Barack Obama doesn’t want debate from Congress on the subject. From Reuters this morning:

President Barack Obama vowed on Tuesday to avoid a repeat of last year’s divisive fight with Congress over an extension of the nation’s borrowing authority.

“While I will negotiate over many things, I will not have another debate with this Congress about whether or not they should pay the bills they have already racked up,” Obama said in remarks in the White House.

“I will not have another debate.” Hmm. Back on December 5, Zachary Goldfarb wrote on the Post Politics blog on the Washington Post website:

As part of the fiscal cliff negotiations, Obama has proposed effectively ending the need for Congress to periodically raise the debt limit, which Republicans have rejected.

I wonder if this proposal won’t be pushed again in the near future?

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

Sources:

Barbieri, Rich and Sahadi, Jeanne. “It’s official: U.S. hits debt ceiling.” CNN Money. 31 Dec. 2012. (http://money.cnn.com/2012/12/31/news/economy/debt-ceiling/) 2 Jan. 2013.

“Obama Debt Ceiling Statement: Limit Increase Not Up For Debate After Fiscal Cliff Showdown.” Reuters. 2 Jan. 2013. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/02/obama-debt-ceiling-fiscal-cliff_n_2394164.html). 2 Jan. 2013.

Goldfarb, Zachary A. “Obama on debt ceiling fight: ‘I will not play that game.’” Post Politics. 5 Dec. 2012. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2012/12/05/obama-on-debt-ceiling-i-will-not-play-that-game/). 2 Jan. 2013.

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Michigan Lawmaker: ‘We’re Going To Have To Seriously Consider Dissolving The City Of Detroit’

As I’ve said before, once in a while I hear chatter about Chicago being on the path to becoming the next Detroit. Not the hub of America’s auto industry that “old” Detroit once was, but rather “this” Detroit:


“Scary Movie 4 – Detroit: Before & After the Attack”
YouTube Video

I guess conditions in the “Motor City” are getting so bad one Michigan state senator has gone so far as to say the legislature is going to have to “seriously consider dissolving” the city. From The Detroit News website this morning:

State Sen. Rick Jones has a solution for fixing Detroit’s ongoing political and financial problems: Get rid of the city.

“At some point we’re going to have to seriously consider dissolving the City of Detroit,” Jones told Insider.

You read that right.

Jones, R-Grand Ledge, is proposing the Legislature, which has the power to establish municipalities, should make the city part of unincorporated Wayne County.

Jones was unclear about what good it would to do to turn the city and its services for 700,000 residents over to a county with it’s owns financial and political problems.

But he said outstate lawmakers like himself are growing tired of the City Council delaying implementation of the financial consent agreement state and city leaders signed in April, inching perilously closer to payless paydays and bankruptcy.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Detroit’s finances appear pretty bleak. According to Reuters last night, not only did Moody’s Investors Service lower the city’s debt ratings deeper in the junk category Wednesday, but:

Moody’s also placed a negative outlook on the lowered ratings, citing in part “the rising possibility that the city could file for bankruptcy or default on an obligation over the next 12 to 24 months.”

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Here’s hoping Detroit can find a way out of their serious financial and political mess.

And that chatter about Chicago becoming the next Detroit doesn’t pan out.

Sources:

“Political insider: Senator says to dissolve Detroit if it can’t fix its problems.” The Detroit News. 29 Nov. 2012. (http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20121129/POLITICS02/211290357/Political-insider?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|s). 29 Nov. 2012.

“Moody’s cuts Detroit debt ratings deeper into junk.” Reuters. 28 Nov. 2012. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/28/detroit-moodys-downgrade-idUSL1E8MSDCJ20121128). 29 Nov. 2012.

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Thursday, November 29th, 2012 Bankruptcy, Bonds, Credit, Defaults, Fiscal Policy, Government No Comments

Three California Cities File For Bankruptcy In Less Than Two Weeks

Stockton, Mammoth Lakes, now San Bernardino.

Three California cities that have filed for bankruptcy in less than two weeks.

Is the prediction by Meredith Whitney, aka the “Diva of Doom,” about a wave of municipal defaults finally coming to fruition?

From NBC Los Angeles on the MSNBC website this morning:

San Bernardino became the third California city in less than two weeks to file municipal bankruptcy protection Tuesday night when the city council voted to make the move in the face of a $45-million budget shortfall…

Officials in Stockton said their June decision to seek federal bankruptcy protection was the “only choice” for the city that was unable to reach finance agreements with creditors to address a $26 million budget shortfall…

On July 4, Mammoth Lakes sought bankruptcy protection from a $43 million court judgment, according to Bloomberg News.

NBC Los Angeles staff pointed out:

In the six decades since Congress created bankruptcy protection for cities, fewer than 500 municipal bankruptcy petitions have been filed, according to the United States Courts website.

As much as I hate to say it, it’s my belief there will be a lot more local governments filing for bankruptcy before this ongoing economic mess is all sorted out. And Whitney will eventually be vindicated about the wave of defaults (her timing was just off). I come across stories about distressed municipalities on a daily basis out in cyberspace. The city that’s grabbing the headlines the last couple of days is Scranton, Pennsylvania. From Perry Chiaramonte on the FOX News website Monday:

Employees of a Pennsylvania city, who have all seen their salaries cut to minimum wage as the mayor grapples with budget problems, are hoping a judge restores their paychecks in full.

Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty cut everyone’s pay — including his own — on Friday, saying the state’s sixth-largest city is broke because the City Council blocked his proposed tax increase. Doherty, a Democrat, warned nearly 400 police officers, firefighters and public works employees about his doomsday plan, prompting a Lackawanna County judge to order the city to pay full wages to all employees, citing that it is a violation of their contracts. Hours later, the payday envelopes went out, and, despite the judge’s order, they were light…

The city of Scranton has battled budget woes for years, but the problems reached a boiling point after the City Council blocked Doherty’s plan to raise taxes to cover a $16.8 million shortfall, opting instead to borrow money to cover the budget gap.

More to come (I’m sure)…

Sources:

“San Bernardino becomes 3rd Calif. city in 2 weeks to file for bankruptcy protection.” MSNBC. 11 July 2012. (http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/07/11/12675262-san-bernardino-becomes-3rd-calif-city-in-2-weeks-to-file-for-bankruptcy-protection?lite). 11 July 2012.

Chiaramonte, Perry. “Pennsylvania city workers to take mayor to court over across-the-board minimum wage salaries.” FOX News. 9 July 2012. (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/07/09/political-statemate-leads-to-city-workers-salaries-cut-down-to-minimum-wage-in/). 11 July 2012.

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Wednesday, July 11th, 2012 Bankruptcy, Defaults, Deficits, Government No Comments

Wealthy Swiss Private Banking Clients Worried

The other day I talked about the recent strong demand for safe deposit boxes in Swiss banks. I surmised:

It’s not a bad idea to pay attention to what “the rich” are doing.

While gold isn’t as “hot” as it was back in September 2011, I’d venture to guess a lot of the yellow metal is being acquired and tucked away in these Swiss safe deposit boxes in anticipation of trying times ahead.

Yesterday, CNBC reporter and editor Robert Frank gave website readers a clearer picture of what’s going in those boxes. He wrote on CNBC.com:

If you want proof that the world’s wealthy are worried, consider this: Swiss banking clients have nearly a third of their portfolio in cash. And one in five believe the Euro will collapse.

The findings are included in a new report from LGT Group, the Austrian banking company, conducted with Austria’s Johannes Kepler University. The study found that wealthy Swiss and Austrian private-banking clients remain highly risk-averse and fearful of inflation, sovereign debt defaults and the unstable financial system.

In Switzerland, 58 percent of private banking clients have lost confidence in the financial system. Forty-four percent worry about inflation…

The study also said clients are reducing their diversification strategies and retreating to gold, cash and their home markets.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

The Swiss. Known for their cheese. And damned-good financial acumen.

Source:

Frank, Robert. “Wealthy Swiss Hoard Cash, See Doom for Euro.” CNBC. 28 June 2012. (http://www.cnbc.com/id/47961107). 29 June 2012.

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60 Minutes Segment About Eurozone Crisis, Potential Impact On United States

We’re in a debt crisis. Eurozone countries have way too much debt. We have gorged on debt. We are living beyond out means. And after 10 years of booming economic times- it is now payback time. We are paying back our credit cards, and that will prove very painful and costly…

Well, the U.S. is doing terribly well at the moment. However, clearly if the Eurozone has a really bad time of it this year, which it could well do, then America will not escape unscathed.

-Louise Cooper, Senior Financial Analyst at BGC Partners, talking to Steve Kroft in a recent interview that appeared on the CBS show 60 Minutes this past Sunday. Cooper has been called “The Downturn Diva” by the British press.


“An Imperfect Union: Europe’s debt crisis”
CBS News Video

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Peter Schiff: ‘Phony Economy’ Will Come ‘Toppling Down,’ Pain Worse Than 2008-2009

Last night I blogged about Jim Rogers and his appearance on the CNBC show Fast Money last week. It turns out another “crash prophet,” Peter Schiff, dropped in on the show last night- with some dire warnings for viewers. The CEO and Chief Global Strategist of Euro Pacific Capital talked about the following in the seven minute segment:

• Federal Reserve money printing is enabling a government spending bubble and preventing the U.S. economy from restructuring
• A big drop in the bond market is coming, and the Fed didn’t make the banks stress test for this because they would fail
• Ben Bernanke and the Fed are keeping interest rates artificially low to prop up the housing market
• Equity markets appear to be gaining value because the U.S. dollar is losing value- “This is not about the stock market going up. It isn’t going up. That’s a delusion created by the Fed.”
• Beware Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve- “The Fed is the biggest enemy of this economy. In fact, Ben Bernanke, as far as I’m concerned, he’s public enemy number one.”
• Economic pain is coming, and it will be worse than in 2008-2009- “Oh, it is going to be. Absolutely going to be. Because the Fed is creating more damage now than it did when it blew up the housing bubble. The problem is going to be eventually, the world is going to figure out that the government is lying about inflation. Inflation is a much bigger problem than the CPI numbers show… Once the world realizes that inflation is running out of control in the U.S., and the Fed will do nothing about it. Because the minute the Fed takes this punch bowl away, the minute it raises interest rates to cut off the inflation, the banks are going to fail, the federal government is going to have to declare bankruptcy, it’s not going to be able to pay the interest on the national debt. This whole phony economy the Fed has constructed with cheap money is going to come toppling down. But the reality is we have to kill this phony economy because it’s unsustainable. We need to replace it with a viable one but unfortunately to do that there’s a lot of short-term pain because we’ve got to unwind this bubble, and the Fed doesn’t want that to happen. The Fed is letting our politicians off the hook. It’s trying to postpone our day of reckoning until after the next election. But there is always another election coming. We have got to deal with these problems. We can’t keep making them worse. That’s what we did when the stock market bubble burst. And we created the real estate bubble. But we learn nothing from our mistakes, all we do is repeat them but on a grander scale.”

At this point in the segment, someone in the Fast Money crew joked:

Sounds like Pete is running for office again [multiple laughs]

You know what? It sounds like 2007 again when a small number of financial types like Schiff warned about the coming financial carnage but the rest of the financial community ignored and/or ridiculed them.

You can watch this informative, sobering video segment on the CNBC website here.

(Editor’s note: 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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Housing Is Back!

Every few days, I see it snuck in somewhere on various mainstream media websites:

Housing is back

Doubtful. A number of housing experts point out that for residential real estate to achieve a sustained recovery in this country, substantial progress has to be made in reducing the glut of properties languishing on the market. The National Association of Realtors reported on August 18:

Total housing inventory at the end of July fell 1.7 percent to 3.65 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 9.4-month supply at the current sales pace, up from a 9.2-month supply in June.

And don’t forget about the “shadow inventory,” or looming foreclosures that are expected to hit the market. Reuters’ Leah Schnurr wrote yesterday:

“There are probably about 3.5 million loans that should be in foreclosure but aren’t yet, and we’re going to have to work through that inventory before the housing market can come back,” said [RealtyTrac senior vice president Rick] Sharga. “This is a painful but necessary first step to get the housing market back on a more even keel.”

After foreclosure activity slowed down for a period of time, the banks appear to be back in the saddle again. The Chicago Tribune’s Mary Ellen Podmolik wrote yesterday:

Notices of mortgage default, the first step in the home foreclosure process, jumped 25 percent in Illinois last month, putting the threat of additional strain on local housing markets.

In August, 7,264 Illinois households received default notices in August, compared to 5,786 households that had foreclosure proceedings started against them by lenders in July, RealtyTrac reported Thursday. It was the most default notices filed against Illinois homeowners since March.

Illinois’ heightened activity mirrors a national trend. Across the country, 78,880 U.S. properties received a default notice in August, a nine-month high and a 33 percent increase from July…

States where default notices rose more than 40 percent from July included New Jersey, Indiana and California.

Based on inventory alone, it sounds like a sustained housing recovery in the United States is still a ways off.

Sources:

“Existing-Home Sales Down in July but Up Strongly From a Year Ago.” National Association of Realtors. 18 Aug. 2011. (http://www.realtor.org/press_room/news_releases/2011/08/july_ehs). 16 Sep. 2011.

Schnurr, Leah. “Mortgage default notices jump in August: RealtyTrac.” Reuters. 15 Sep. 2011. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/15/us-usa-economy-realtytrac-idUSTRE78E0OM20110915). 16 Sep. 2011.

Podmolik, Mary Ellen. “Mortgage default notices in Illinois surge 25% in August.” Chicago Tribune. 15 Sep. 2011. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/realestate/foreclosure/chi-mortgage-default-warnings-surged-in-august-20110915,0,421789.story). 16 Sep. 2011.

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Friday, September 16th, 2011 Defaults, Housing No Comments


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