Miscellaneous

     

 

 

Disappearing Credit

All across the banking world – from commercial loans to leases and real estate – credit is collapsing. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard writing for British newspaper The Telegraph:

 

Credit strategists are increasingly disturbed by a sudden and rare contraction of U.S. bank lending, fearing a synchronized slowdown in the U.S. and China this year that could catch euphoric markets badly off guard. Data from the U.S. Federal Reserve shows that the $2 trillion market for commercial and industrial loans peaked in December.

The sector has weakened abruptly as lenders tighten credit, especially for non-residential property. Over the last three months it has dropped at a rate of 5.4% on annual basis, a pace of decline not seen since December 2008.

 

C & I loans, y/y growth. Readers may recall that we recently showed this chart in “Libor Pains”, in which we discussed corporate debt. Actually, y/y commercial & industrial loan growth peaked in early 2015 already, not just “last December”… but lettuce not quibble (Pritchard likely meant to refer to total commercial bank credit, the growth rate of which reached an interim peak in late 2016 – shown further below). The point remains that credit growth is falling fast – click to enlarge.

 

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Neo-Marxist Pope Francis Argues for Global Central Bank

As the new year dawns, it seems the current occupant of St. Peter’s Chair will take on a new function which is outside the purview of the office that the Divine Founder of his institution had clearly mandated.

 

Neo-Papist transmogrification. We highly recommend the economic thought of one of Francis’ storied predecessors, John Paul II, which we have written about on previous occasions. In “A Tale of Two Popes” and “Papal Eco-Hysteria”, we have contrasted Francis and John Paul II and quoted from the latter’s seminal encyclical “Centesimus Annus”, which probably contains the most clear-headed thinking on human liberty and economics that has ever emerged from the Vatican. Francis strikes us as a throwback to a completely discredited and dangerous ideology by comparison. Lately he is even calling for the establishment of a global central bank!

 

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Surface Temperatures Plunge – the Great Pause Continues

Last year’s El Nino phenomenon temporarily provided succor to climate alarmists, who were increasingly bothered by the “Great Pause” – the fact that the tiny amount of warming experienced since the last cooling cycle ended in the late 1970s had apparently stopped. Despite trace amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere continuing to climb, mother nature decided to disobey alarmist models and temperatures went sideways for about 20 years (or even longer, depending on the data set).

 

Too bad penguins actually don’t live at the North Pole! One probably should refrain from obtaining climate information from rabidly leftist blogs. Incidentally, the same very same ice-floe has carried lost polar bears in the past, in particular the species “ursus bogus”. If one looks around a bit, there’s also a version with three penguins…

 

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Democratic Fantasy

BALTIMORE – Fidel Castro was regarded as a revolutionary and a “change agent.”

But he is better understood as a throwback, more of a counter-revolutionary than a real revolutionary. The real revolution in human affairs happened long before he was born… and is still going on – the revolution led by civilized free-market capitalism.

 

timeFinger-wagging Fidel Castro on the cover of TIME in 1965, which by this time accused his revolution of “decaying”. The US government initially continued to subsidize Cuba in the wake of Castro’s takeover as he had given less than truthful assurances that the “handful of communists” in his cabinet had no influence on Cuba’s policies. The Batista government’s economic policies had a great many statist features as well, so at first it seemed as though the differences between the two regimes would only be marginal – mainly, someone else would do the stealing. By the time the above cover story was published, the US was waging a full-scale economic war against Cuba. It is rare for a classical peasants’ revolt to actually succeed. Castro’s victory over Batista was quite a feat in that sense; not surprisingly, it elicited the admiration of Leftists the world over. Castro was not a Stalinist, presumably not least because Khrushchev had “de-Stalinized” the Soviet Union, but he did declare himself a Marxist-Leninist (which Stalin incidentally had claimed to be as well). The political Left’s misguided admiration for Castro never wavered though.

 

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A Confession

RHINEBECK, New York – Is the stock market dead? Nothing is happening there. It is the first of November. The countdown to the elections has begun; the nation seems to hold its breath.

 

supreme1The US Supreme Court is “up for grabs”  – but does it even matter? Not if one considers the court’s history. It is essentially a rubber stamp for the State, giving legal cover to its transgressions.

Photo credit: Joe Ravi

 

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Holding Pattern

When it comes to interesting charts or marginally promising setups I’m pretty much scraping the bottom of the barrel right now. Not surprising really, given that the few remaining market participants (bots! cough cough) are firmly set in a holding pattern after a one year sideways churn and an impending Presidential election on November 8th which is thought to have the potential to be the catalyst for changes in the financial arena. I for one hold very little hopes on that end, no matter which of the two candidates will be sworn in come January.

 

jack_electro_shocksThere’s always the loonie though…

Photo credit: Fantasy Films

 

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Lurid Media Coverage

In recent months, more and more of our clients and friends from overseas are asking us whether it is safe to travel to Europe. These fears are understandable, given the media coverage of the tragic events that occurred this year. The press painted a sinister and truly graphic picture of Europe as a war zone, as a target of global terrorism.

 

the-scenes-inside-brussels-airport-after-the-attackInside the Brussels airport shortly after the bomb blast in March.

Photo credit: Pavel Ohal

 

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Escaping the Hurricane

BALTIMORE – Last week, we got a peek at the End of the World. As Hurricane Matthew approached the coast of Florida, a panic set in. Gas stations ran out of fuel. Stores ran out of food. Banks ran out of cash.

 

satellite-imageA satellite image of hurricane Matthew taken on October 4. He didn’t look very friendly.

Image via twitter.com

 

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Introductory Remarks by PT:

At first we actually didn’t want to post this particular Diary entry, because we felt it was too “off topic” (although we do of course occasionally discuss off topic issues), but upon further reflection it struck us that it is actually quite interesting when considered in a broader context.

 

EU spending on ag

EU spending: most of the budget is spent on subsidizing agriculture (which represents less than 2% of total economic output). As is the case with all government spending, it has turned out to be a burden rather than a boon, even for those it is supposed to help – click to enlarge.

 

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$300 Trillion in Debt

DUBLIN – After our trip to Las Vegas, we spent one night in Baltimore and then got on another airplane. Standing in line, unpacking bags, getting zapped by X-ray machines – it has all become so routine we almost forget how absurd it is.

 

 

A TSA agent waits for passengers to pass through a magnetometer at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on November 22, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Some passengers are subjected to Advanced Imaging Technology AIT scanners that see through clothing to photograph the entire body to reveal undisclosed objects. Increasing use of the scanner at airports by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is being met with outrage by many US travelers. Passengers who refuse an X-ray scan are required to undergo an intimate pat down by TSA agents.Get ready to be invaded, citizen…

Photo by David McNew / Getty Images

 

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Myths and Legends

“Myths and legends die hard in America,” remarked Hunter S. Thompson in The Great Shark Hunt, nearly 40-years ago.  Thompson didn’t likely have U.S. Treasury bonds in mind when he made this observation.  Though, if he were still alive, he may find the present state of the great Treasury bond bubble to be an amusing anecdote.

 

huntersthompson2Gonzo! Hunter S. Thompson, who had the theory that the truth is never told during the nine-to-five hours…

 

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The Importance of Cabbages

LONDON – A dear reader challenged us:

 

“To create a perfect world what type of government would you propose?”

 

Another put it a different way:

 

“Again, I’m convinced more than ever, Trump is the only candidate that might have a chance to get us out of the financial and economic mess the United States is in. If Bonner & Partners is unable to recognize this, it tells me their agenda is not to fix America’s problems… but continue the agony…”

 

diocletian in retirement hrEmperor Diocletian in retirement, talking to his security detail. Famous quotes made on occasion of his decision to become a cabbage farmer: Diocletian: “Cabbages don’t talk back”. Maximianus (a.k.a. “M”, his co-regent as “Augustus of the West” from AD 286 to AD 305): “You’ve lost your marbles, old chap”.  It later turned out that M’s assessment was erroneous. He got bored and came out of retirement after just one year to help his son Maxentius in his fight over the succession, as the “tetrarchy” put in place by Diocletian threatened to splinter. Maximianus  succeeded in sorting things out in favor of his son, but not even two years later he recognized he had made a fateful mistake: Maxentius was actually unfit to rule. Maximianus not only told him so, but actually told everybody. Then he ripped the imperial toga from Maxentius before an assembly of soldiers, expecting the soldiers to side with him (he was an old war horse and battlefield hero after all). That turned out to be a miscalculation – instead was chased out of Italy in disgrace. Should have gone for cabbage farming too!

Engraving by Charlotte Mary Yonge

 

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