Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Spoiling for a Fight: Pick Your Weapons

EUR/USD 1.3332 Hi 1.3372 Low 1.3324
117.26 Hi 118.02 Low 117.08
AUD/USD 0.8092 Hi 0.8111 Low 0.8038
EUR/JPY 156.37 Hi 157.60 Low 156.33

The Anglo-Americans are bristling with guns and weapons of every type. They have spent decades and trillions of dollars developing all kinds of new and exciting ways to kill people and/or render large parts of the globe uninhabitable. Their arsenals are full and the propaganda machine is cranking up the rhetoric. Weapons are their strong point and it's all systems go. All they need is an EXCUSE.

Blair and his buddy Bush may have to be slightly more careful with their EXCUSES this time 'round, seen as how no weapons of mass destruction were actually found in Iraq. Not that George W. is dwelling on that inconvenient fact. And since the invasion Iraq country is now very obviously not a Democracy. More a dystopian nightmare of epic proportions. A nightmare which the American propaganda machine is now blaming on who? Why the Iraqis themselves. Of course. But the psychotic "neo-cons" have another country in their sights now: IRAN. They always did. No-one can really remember why Iran has been subject to an embargo by the United States for more than a quarter of a century. Except that the CIA doesn't take well to countries who opt for self-determination over CIA stooges. After all not even the Americans really have self-determination.

Now it doesn't really matter. Now we have the NUCLEAR issue. And the guy in the Trainspotter outfit in Tehran is playing along. After all his mandate back home is about as popular as George W.'s mandate is in the States. That is: it's not. A war would be just the trick. Take the heat off his terrible economic management and focus everyone's attention on fighting the FOREIGN enemy. So, unfortunately, these two pitiful "leaders" have common cause. Which makes a military conflict probable.

And who better to help get it started than Phoney Tony?? Right on time.

So let's get the battle going. We have the guns. We have the grunts. We have the media in our back pocket.

The only problem being that this war is unlikely to be settled on the battlefield. The world sits and waits and watches in disbelief as the Anglo-American forces systematically lay waste to Iraq and Afghanistan. And everyone except the Anglo-Americans know what happens next. While the U.S. Congress panders to U.S. public opinion and debates meaningless dates for withdrawing (combat) troops from Iraq and perhaps, maybe, in very small print suggests that funds for more war may be withdrawn. The rest of the world is waiting to pull the pin on the whole shebang. Washington can shift around its resources as much as it wants. The real money is not in Washington.

More than 60 years ago Mao-Tse Tung called the U.S. a Paper Tiger. Mao, incidentally was the guy who finally kicked the Foreign Devils out of China, after near on three centuries of Western mayhem inside the Middle Kingdom. Mayhem which included fighting wars to force the Chinese to buy Opium. So same old, same old. And now the Chinese are sitting on USD 1 trillion of Foreign Reserves, the Japanese, who the Americans kindly used to experiment their nuclear technology in the closing days of WWII, reportedly hold USD 800 billion worth of U.S. Treasuries. I forget how large the Russian Foreign Reserves are. Needless to say they are large. And now even the Saudis are cancelling State visits. Not like the Saudis really.

And Russia has been issuing very public warnings about unilateral action by the U.S., in the Financial Times and elsewhere, all apparently ignored.

Obviously the Anglo-Americans expect the confrontation to come to some kind of military climax. Putin would have to be retarded to try that. And I don't think retarded is a good description. Although it certainly fits the American "neo-cons" like a glove.

So when the opening shot is fired don't expect any USD safe-haven buying. There won't be any. Expect large and concerted USD selling. Only a fool would go to battle with the weapons of choice of "the enemy". This won't be about who has the biggest arsenal this will be about who has the MOST MONEY. And we all know that the U.S. is broke. Well everyone outside of the United States does anyhow. Welcome to Paper Tiger: round two. For some people it could be quite an education.

So far USD selling has been gentlemanly in its restraint. That is unlikely to last. And when the gloves come off and the USD selling accelerates, like it will, the U.S. Treasury market and the U.S. Stock Market won't be safe either. So as the rhetoric from the Anglo-Americans becomes increasingly aggressive watch the USD take a hit. Think big. Because the stakes are high and this time it seems the Americans need to a learn a lesson. I wonder if Putin plays chess? I would guess so.

And as the real FUNDING is withdrawn economic conditions in the U.S. are likely to get considerably worse. How long before we have rioting in the streets? You might think that worsening economic conditions are driving the USD lower. You might be very much mistaken on that account. It's the other way 'round.

OIL 64.11
GOLD 672.00

The Anglo-Iranian stand-off is getting the OIL bulls excited. A little. More upside is possible, particularly in USD terms. But the real action, of course, will be in the GOLD market. It's going higher. A lot higher. The scramble to exit the USD has only just begun.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Don't Worry Be Happy

EUR/USD 1.3333 Hi 1.3356 Low 1.3320
118.21 Hi 118.42 Low 117.85
AUD/USD 0.8085 Hi 0.8111 Low 0.8064
EUR/JPY 157.63 Hi 158.04 Low 157.17

Right now the Happy-Clappy crowd is happy because the YIELD CURVE in the U.S. has (maybe) turned POSITIVE. That is short term rates are now lower than longer term rates, depending on which bit of the curve you look at. Because no-one really knows what is going on with monetary policy in the States, the YIELD CURVE is all over the place. Still the 10 year yield (4.61%)is now lower than the 30 year yield (4.82%)and the 2 year yield (4.59%) is lower than the 10 year yield. Regardless of all that, the FED FUNDS rate at 5.25 is higher than the entire curve. So while bits of the yield curve are positive, the short end is still NEGATIVE. The idea that the Happy-Clappy crowd is running with is that the FED is behind THE CURVE. That is: the FED will eventually be forced to cut interest rates as economic conditions worsen. And IF the YIELD CURVE is a good leading indicator of the economic activity then the now partially Positive Yield Curve must mean things are looking up. That is the kind of reasoning you would expect from the Happy-Clappy crowd.

Except U.S. Statistics suggest that "things" aren't looking up at all. The Housing Market, that huge PONZI SCHEME which is in the process of collapsing, still looks ugly. Housing numbers released yesterday were bad and today saw the release of the Home Price Index which confirmed what we already know: there is no reason to be optimistic about the Residential Housing Market in the U.S. for, oh, let's say the next five years or so. For the Happy-Clappy crowd that is not a problem. The FED will ride in to the rescue, CUT RATES, and everything will be fine again.

Only the FED doesn't seem to see it that way. Nobody at the FED is talking RATE CUTS, everyone is talking INFLATIONARY RISKS, and the pundits aren't listening.

And while we are at it the rise in YIELDS, which has led to the change in the shape of the YIELD CURVE, is not necessarily something to be gleeful about. What you have is worsening domestic economic conditions and yields which continue to rise. Support for the U.S. Treasury market seems to have diminished. Which is not surprising given the Fiscal Record of the George W. Administration. Why this is anything but unmitigated bad news is beyond me. However, those looking for good news and comfortable with straight-line correlations and very simple ideas are going with what they have. And the (sort-of) POSITIVE YIELD CURVE is the best they can come up with right now.

Meanwhile back at the farm the USD is struggling. It is (just) managing to hold it's head above 118.00 versus the YEN but seems to be sinking against the EURO. Although the Happy-Clappy crowd are sure that the sell-off in U.S. Treasuries will see international capital come pouring back into the U.S., such optimism is PREMATURE. Wise investors avoid a market on the slide. And it's way too early to say that U.S. Treasuries have bottomed out. The FED is not riding to the rescue of the domestic economy and foreign investors are not lined up ready to rush into the U.S. Treasury market as it slowly but steadily crumbles.

The outlook for the USD is grim. Eventually the Happy-Clappy crowd will seize on this phenomenon as good news because it means that the U.S. is becoming more internationally competitive. In the way that Mexico became more internationally competitive. It's the way you become internationally competitive by FIRST becoming really poor. Painful, but the IMF and the World Bank are keen on it. So maybe that is the game plan. It's what you do when you have run out of options.

OIL 62.67
GOLD 663.30

The posturing surrounding the Iranian seizure of 15 British Marines has given the price of OIL a little fillip. The OIL corporations and the SAUDIS must be happy. But fears of recession in the U.S. are keeping a lid on things. Not that the war mongers have given up. There is still a chance for a serious new conflict in the Middle East. Wasn't the plan for a break out in hostilities (ie. an attack on Iran) for April?? In this surreal atmosphere we sit and wait. And so do the markets.

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