International Forecaster Weekly

Economy Stagnant When Action Is What Is Needed

Probable head count in Census around 320 Million, What is Bernanke hiding at the Fed? No end to zero interest rates after 14 months, China to change some things, Greek basket case, California even worse than Greece, home owners stuck with houses worth less than what they paid

Bob Chapman | February 17, 2010

When the next census is over America will probably have 320 million people. The number of Americans 50 years ago was about 184 million. Our budget then was about $100 billion. Today it is supposed to be $3.8 trillion. We call that spending gone wild. Government control of the economy has become bigger and all consuming at what will prove to be an unsustainable pace. Markets are telling us the world has serious sovereign debt problems as witnessed recently with the financial debacles in Ireland and now Greece with others to follow. Arrogant government, Fed officials and Wall Street telling us the borrowings are necessary to save our economy, when in fact just the opposite will prove to be true. Chairman Bernanke tells us inflation expectations are stable and will be subdued for some time to come. Our big questions are what is he hiding at the Fed? Why doesn’t he want an audit? What has the Fed been doing that it doesn’t want us to know about? Could it be the funnel of insider information flowing to Wall Street and banking or the operations of the “Presidents Working Group on Financial Markets”? In their minutes it would be found that inflation is recognized as a friend not an enemy. The independence Mr. Bernanke speaks about is a subterfuge to keep what the Fed is doing away from prying eyes. We do not believe this is any way to run a monetary system.

As we forecast Fed Chairman Bernanke was reconfirmed as the Republican National Committee doled out campaign contributions (payoffs) so that Senators could see their way to confirming Ben. Treasury Secretary Geithner and former Secretary Paulson lied before the congressional committee and as usual nothing happened. Again three illuminists waltz free to again rape our financial system. Democrats in scumbag fashion didn’t seat the newly elected Scott Brown and was able to increase short-term government by $1.9 trillion, so they wouldn’t have to increase it before the November elections. What a wonderful government we have. If Americans do not dump the incumbents of both parties our country is doomed.

It should stand foremost in everyone’s mind that we have had zero interest rates for 14 months and there is no end in sight. The Fed in its secrecy, because you do not have a need to know, won’t admit that they paid banks, Wall Street firms, insurance companies, other corporations and foreign banks 100 cents on the dollar for virtually worthless bonds. The Fed saved the financial system and the US taxpayer will pay for it. Incidentally, these recipients are all back doing the same thing they did before, which brought the financial system down. The Fed created more than $2 trillion for this bailout, as well as via the purchase of Treasuries and Agencies.

In this process the Fed lost control of the Fed funds’ rate, a new rate process will probably be interest paid on excess bank reserves. This could lead to a drain in reserves of $1 to $2 trillion. Part of those reserves are toxic garbage that the Fed has to find a way to get rid of at $0.20 to $0.30 on the dollar and in process not let anyone know what the publics’ losses are. Keep in mind that if these securities had not been “purchased many banks, brokerage houses, insurance companies and transnational conglomerates would have been bankrupt by now.

China expanded bank loans in January by a phenomenal $200 billion plus. This is in addition to $1.3 trillion in previous expansions. As a result house prices rose 9.5% year-on-year. Their manufacturing fed giant oil and copper imports rose 33% to 25%, as consumption rose 40%.

As a result the People’s Bank raised reserve requirements by 50 bps, or 1/2%. Whether this becomes an isolated event or whether it is the beginning of real tightening, remains to be seen. If they are serious they will need higher rates than that. This tactic is used rather than raising interest rates, which will attract additional hot money flow. The bank says they are guiding the economy back to normality. They are expecting other countries to follow their lead in ending stimulus. The question now for China and the rest of the world is will world stock and bond markets, as well as asset values fall as the stimulus and quantitative easing ends? Our forecast is a fall in GDP, higher unemployment, an easing to a very small degree in inflation and a big fall in stock, bond and real estate prices. The temporary palliative will not carry their economy ahead on a permanent basis.

China can act aggressively because their enormous Forex position of some $2.4 trillion; a luxury not available to many countries. In addition we now have recognized sovereign debt problems mainly so that the dollar could rally and for other currencies to fall to make them more competitive. That is the price to be paid – recognition. Those conditions were well known long before the open exposure of Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy. The magical exposure was all prearranged. We could tell that was the plan by the long dollar positions of Goldman, Morgan and Citi, and in reverse their massive short positions in gold and silver bullion and shares that still as yet have only been partially covered.

China will tighten up but not in a big way, because others won’t and can’t without their economies coming unglued, especially in the category of unemployment. World monetary authorities are hoping the deflationary underflow will in total or at least in part ward-off the inflation caused by monetized stimulus. That is wishful thinking. What is in motion is very dangerous, especially for the US, where the federal deficit has gone ballistic, probably reaching $1.5 to $2.0 trillion by September 30, 2010, the end of the fiscal year. Then there is the matter of debt that last year saw the Fed service 80% via monetization. This cannot persist indefinitely. As you can see the US and other economies are very vulnerable.

As all attention has been drawn over the past few weeks to Greece, Europe and China, it went almost unnoticed that the US had the largest trade deficit in a year, and that Freddie Mac will purchase hundreds of billions of dollars of toxic waster better known as collateralized debt obligation, in behalf of the American taxpayer. There is no end to America’s financial problems.

This is the result of the market’s reluctance to purchase these securities. These publicly supported bankrupt entities will spend another $200 billion buying these securities. This is an add on to the Fed’s program of purchasing $1.25 trillion of these home loans, a program that is supposed to end next month.

If this is part of the Fed’s exit strategy we are in serious trouble. These purchases are not going to solve the problems. The Fed is just moving these wasteful assets from one place to another. Under these circumstances how can there be a recovery and how can the dollar maintain its current strength? Leverage is still the method of speculators and inflation is still with us.

It looks like global financial and economic problems are not going to disappear anytime soon. Over and over again nations paper over problems never attempting to solve them. The current dilemma in Greece and at the Fed are perfect examples.

Observers are going to be shocked when China’s stock market and real estate bubbles burst. The ramifications of these Chinese failures will resound worldwide. The biggest question is will China have to start selling off its $2 trillion dollar hoard to straighten out its problems? Only time will tell. What is important is that these problems exist. They are not being addressed and in time will resurface in a more virulent manner.

We see Greece as a reflection of where America is headed. Greece and America have many things in common, one of which is their governments consistently lie about everything. The EU and eurozone solution for Greece are budget cuts of 8.7% this year and down to 3% of GDP in three years. Can you imagine the US going through this? Well, get ready for it because this is where the US economy is headed. Instead of $780 billion stimulus plans we will have $780 billion in budget cuts. Not only would government start cutting staff, but also there would be major cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, wages, etc. Yes, taxes would rise, as tax cuts would not be renewed.

We hear all about the corruption in Greece, but we are not surprised. They just copy what they see in the US. It is a revelation when we are told 30% of Greece’s economy is underground. It has been a dark secret for many years that 30% of the US economy is underground as well. This began in the Vietnam era, and has gone on ever since. Today people say if illegal aliens do not have to pay taxes why should they. It is a government-sponsored program to do little or nothing about this problem, so what can government expect from the public?

Greece is a basket case, as are many other governments. The more we research the more we are convinced Greece is a setup and trial run to take other governments under, one at a time. This in part was done to boost the dollar’s value versus other currencies. This could be the second inflationary leg of the depression similar to 1933. Again the only safe haven is gold and silver related assets.

As we mentioned before, Greece could well be a distraction so players would lose sight of US problems. A strong dollar does not mean the America’s problems are over. Others’ problems are not worse than ours. By the looks of things the Illuminists are not as yet ready to pull the plug on Europe. If they were they would have already pulled it. The EU, but in particular the eurozone, has become a failed experiment. Greece may be bad but California is going to be much worse. It represents 13% of US GDP and is the 7th largest economy in the world. They owe the federal government $6 billion and have a budget deficit of more than $6 billion. Then there are the $500 billion in municipal bonds they have outstanding, that could go into default. Then there is New Jersey with an $11 billion deficit. Pennsylvania hs talked about bankruptcy. Then come many others. Yes, Greece could be a diversion. If it is it will be a long-term diversion that could last 20 years. For those who do not know Greece has been in default in 105 of the last 200 years.

The bottom line is there is a limit to the amount of debt a sovereign country can handle. The Illuminists are setting the world up for a long string of sovereign defaults. Now you can better understand why you need gold and silver related assets.

The latest G-7 meeting in N. Canada was another non-event. They reaffirmed that stimulus has to keep flowing or the seven major world economies won’t be able to make it. Little of what really went on got into the media, which is usually the case. Governments in recent years have become more and more secretive. Most nations generally want lower deficits, but in reality never practice what they preach. That gives us a bottom line as we are left with little more than blatant hypocrisy. It has simply become a pure political game and as a result there is no path back to economic and financial normality. No one wants to purge a system that no longer functions properly. The looting goes on unabated. They are all a disgrace, but we know exactly what they are up too. Thank goodness for newsletters, talk radio and the Internet, otherwise we’d still have darkness being only able to access the controlled media.

Last week the Dow gained 0.9%, S&P 0.9%, the Russell 2000 3% and the Nasdaq 1001.9%. Banks fell 0.2%, broker/dealers rose 1.3%, cyclicals 2.5%, transports 2.5%, consumers 1.6%, as utilities lost 1.3%. High tech rose 1.8%, semis 4%, Internets 1.8%, as biotechs fell 0.2%. Gold bullion rose $27.00, the HUI gained 3.2%, as the USDX dollar index fell 0.3% to 80.22.

Two-year Treasury bills rose 5 bps to 0.74%, 10-year notes rose 13 bps to 3.70 and 10-year German bunds gained 7 bps to 3.19%.

Freddie Mac 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates declined 4 bps to 4.97%. The 15’s fell 6 bps to 4.34% one-year ARM’s jumped 9 bps to 4.33% and 30-year jumbo’s rose 2 bps to 5.92%.

Fed credit increased $1.8 billion last week. It is up 22% yoy. The Fed foreign holdings of Treasury and Agency debt jumped $9.3 billion to $2.956 trillion. Custody holdings, for foreign central banks yoy are up $395 billion, or 15.4%.

M2 narrow money supply increased $7 billion to $8.471 trillion yoy; it has expanded 1.8%.

Total money market funds assets fell again $6.7 billion to $3.198 trillion. Year-on-year they have fallen $705 billion, or 18.1%.

China’s lending surged to 1.39 trillion yuan ($203 billion) in January and property prices climbed the most in 21 months as banks extended more credit in anticipation the government will tighten monetary policy.  Lending was more than in the previous three months combined. Property prices in 70 cities rose 9.5% from a year earlier… China’s 9.35 trillion yuan of loans in the past year has added to the risk that the world’s fastest-growing major economy may overheat.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s plan to step up purchases of delinquent loans may boost prepayments on their securities. Freddie Mac said yesterday that it would buy ‘substantially all’ loans with payments late by 120 days or more from its securities in the next month. Fannie Mae said later that it will ‘increase significantly’ its buyouts, setting a less aggressive timeline. The value of Freddie Mac’s delinquent loans is $70 billion, while Fannie Mae has $130 billion of the debt. ‘This is going to be a wad of cash coming into the fixed- income markets and it’s not immediately clear where it’s going to be reinvested,’ said Jim Vogel, head of agency-debt research at FTN Financial.

More than a fifth of U.S. homeowners owed more than their properties were worth in the fourth quarter according to  In the fourth quarter, 21.4% of owners of mortgaged homes were underwater, up from 21% in the previous three months.

Like millions of American households, the Mortgage Bankers Association found itself stuck with real estate whose market value has plunged far below the amount it owed its lenders. On Friday, CoStar Inc., a provider of commercial real estate data, said it had agreed to buy the MBA’s 10-story headquarters building in Washington, D.C., for $41.3 million. That is well below the $79 million the trade group agreed to pay for the glass-walled building in 2007.

Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana announced yesterday that he will not seek a third term in November, a decision that, combined with other Democratic departures, could imperil the party’s prospects of retaining control of the Senate.

Bayh cited the lack of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill as his main reason for leaving, adding to skepticism that the fractiousness in Washington can be repaired and undermining President Obama’s efforts to build bridges. [The rats are leaving the sinking ship. As it says in the Bible the writing is on the wall.]