The valuation of financial knowledge

How valuable is software that makes money? Obviously, it’s priceless. How do we value the biggest opaque commodity – knowledge?  How does one value financial knowledge? Finance as both a topic and industry has been holding huge secrets guarded by the most rich and powerful in the world for hundreds of generations. Why don’t they…

Fed Study: Fake News drives Fake Markets

Thanks Bloomberg, for another useless piece of regurgitated info we’ve known for years; fake news drives the fake markets which are artificially inflated.  Actually thanks to the Fed for doing the academic research on this topic to confirm what we’ve known for years – the markets are rigged and one way they are manipulated is…

EES: Author of Splitting Pennies, Joe Gelet, interviewed on Podcast

Joe Gelet, author of Splitting Pennies, was interviewed on Destiny Survival podcast, by John Wesley Smith.  Checkout what he had to say about the interview, at his site www.destinysurvival.com:


Joe and I had no trouble filling the time allotted to us for DestinySurvival Radio. He’s quite knowledgeable and explains things thoroughly.
When I asked him to define Forex, it might sound at first like he’s going down a rabbit trail. But he’s not. Listen carefully to what he says about the U.S. dollar and foreign exchange money markets, and it will make sense. Throughout his book he layers on finer points describing Forex.
Here’s how massive Forex is.
Forex is the driver of the global economy. It supercedes nation states, politics, even religion. It’s not governed by law, but by trading principles.
Our Federal Reserve plays a large role in Forex, as do other central banks.
In the book he asserts it’s irrelevant as to who owns the Federal Reserve.Things are what they are. We owe it to ourselves to know a little something about how the system works.
It’s startling to think our Federal Reserve can create money from nothing, and we accept it as such. Yet this plays a significant role in inflation, which affects all of us. Joe and I talked about this and explored what it means to have a fiat money system.
Even though the Fed can create money from nothing, it wouldn’t be wise to print ourselves out of debt. Nor would it be a good idea to go into default.
But about that ever present fiat money…
This may sound shocking to some, but Joe asserts in his book that the U.S. dollar isn’t backed by gold but by bombs. You won’t want to miss what he has to say about this during our conversation. If you’ve paid attention to the news for the past 10-15 years, you’ll observe he’s not saying anything we don’t already know.
To me all of this is terrifying. We’re living in a world whose system is based on feathers and fairy tales.
Does that mean the many dire predictions about a sudden economic crash are sure to come to pass?
Not as Joe sees it. Or at least not in the way most sensationalists would have us believe. That’s because there’s no good alternative to the dollar.
What does Joe mean when he says banks can’t do without the economy, but the economy can do without banks? We discussed that. And I think it bodes well for us, should we end up in the midst of the proverbial postapocalyptic scenario one day.
And what about Bitcoin and other alternate currencies? They’ve been touted as revolutionary and independent of the big banking system. But are they? Listen to Joe’s comments and draw your own conclusions.
If you make financial investments, Joe offers what seems to me to be a reasonable solution. But what if you can’t invest?
If you had $1,000 to put toward getting prepared, what should you do? I think you’ll be surprised by Joe’s advice. (Hint: It’s a practical position I have taken for quite some time.)
Joe’s goal is to help you and me be better prepared financially. Thus, his book. You may also want to see SplittingPennies.com.

You can listen to the podcast on YouTube by clicking here, or press play below:

Euro “Will Collapse” As Is “House of Cards” Warns Founder of Euro

The Euro “will collapse” as it is a”house of cards” warned Otmar Issing, the founder and creator of the euro in an extraordinary interview on Monday.
euro_drachmaPaper currency – Euro paper notes and Greek drachma note
In the explosive interview with the journal Central Banking, Professor Issing, said “one day, the house of cards will collapse”  as the European Central Bank (ECB) is becoming dangerously over-extended and the whole euro project is unworkable in its current form.
The founding architect of the monetary union has warned that Brussels’ dream of a European superstate will finally be buried amongst the rubble of the crumbling single currency he designed.
“Realistically, it will be a case of muddling through, struggling from one crisis to the next. It is difficult to forecast how long this will continue for, but it cannot go on endlessly,” he told the journal Central Banking in a remarkable deconstruction of the EU project.
The respected economist launched a withering attack on so called eurocrats and German Prime Minister Angela Merkel, accusing them of betraying the principles of the euro and demonstrating scandalous incompetence over its management.
And he savaged the whole idea of a federal “United States of Europe”, saying the attempt to push through federalisation in a stealth manner “by the back door” has turned the very foundations that the currency was built on into a complete mess of patchwork legislation, into which it is sinking fast.
As is frequently the case when there is substantive damaging criticism about the EU and ECB from respected and authoritative sources, the interview was treated in quite an Orwellian manner. It completely ignored and not reported by most state run media in Ireland, the UK and EU.  Most state run media is overwhelmingly pro-EU and continues to ignore the serious problems and growing risks posed by the single currency and the undemocratic EU to the citizens of Europe. Nor was it reported in most corporate media in the EU which also tends to ignore all reasonable criticisms of the EU, ECB and especially the euro.
The explosive interview has been covered extensively in the more “right wing” euro “skeptic” media in the UK in papers such as The Telegraph and The Mail which means that most people in the EU will not even be aware of Otmar Issing’s very real and reasonable concerns and the growing risks posed to the currency they use in their lives every day and their very way of life.
gold in euros_2016Gold in Euros – 5 Years
The coming collapse of the euro is seems inevitable. The question is when rather than if. It gives us no pleasure to say so as the collapse of the euro  will be financially painful for family, friends and people and companies in all EU nations.
The euro has even greater challenges than sterling which has collapsed more than 43% against gold this year. It is only a matter of time before market participants and foreign exchange traders’ focus, moves from sterling to the ‘not so single’ euro. Then the euro will see a similar depreciation and devaluation in the coming months.
Gold will again fulfill its primary role which is as a hedge against currency devaluation. As it has done in the UK and many other nations in recent months and indeed has done throughout history.
Gold and Silver Bullion – News and Commentary
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Gold Prices (LBMA AM)
18 Oct: USD 1,261.65, GBP 1,031.15 & EUR 1,145.33 per ounce
17 Oct: USD 1,252.70, GBP 1,029.59 & EUR 1,139.58 per ounce
14 Oct: USD 1,256.15, GBP 1,028.79 & EUR 1,140.08 per ounce
13 Oct: USD 1,258.00, GBP 1,029.93 & EUR 1,141.76 per ounce
12 Oct: USD 1,255.70, GBP 1,024.53 & EUR 1,139.05 per ounce
11 Oct: USD 1,256.40, GBP 1,021.58 & EUR 1,130.76 per ounce
10 Oct: USD 1,262.10, GBP 1,016.62 & EUR 1,129.71 per ounce
Silver Prices (LBMA)
18 Oct: USD 17.65, GBP 14.37 & EUR 16.03 per ounce
17 Oct: USD 17.40, GBP 14.30 & EUR 15.83 per ounce
14 Oct: USD 17.47, GBP 14.28 & EUR 15.86 per ounce
13 Oct: USD 17.59, GBP 14.40 & EUR 15.95 per ounce
12 Oct: USD 17.44, GBP 14.23 & EUR 15.83 per ounce
11 Oct: USD 17.48, GBP 14.26 & EUR 15.78 per ounce
10 Oct: USD 17.78, GBP 14.31 & EUR 15.92 per ounce

Recent Market Updates
– Property Bubble In Ireland Developing Again
– “Gold Is A Great Hedge Against Politicians” – Goldman
– Sell Gold Now – Time To Liquidate Gold ETF, Pooled and Digital Gold
– Gold In GBP Up 43% YTD – “Massive Twin Deficits” To Impact UK Assets
– Ron Paul Says “Gold Going Up” Whether Trump Or Clinton Elected
– Gold Trading COT Report “Means Lower – Then Much Higher – Prices Coming”
– Currency Shock Sees Sterling Gold Surges 5% In One Minute “Flash Crash”
– Top Gold Forecaster: “As Quickly As Gold Fell” May “Rally Back” on Global Risks
– Gold Buying ‘Opportunity’ After Surprise 3.4% Drop
– Deutsche Bank “Is Probably Insolvent”
– GBP Gold Rises 1.3% as Sterling Slumps On ‘Hard Brexit’ Concerns, Up 36% YTD
– Why Krugman, Roubini, Rogoff And Buffett Hate Gold
– ECB Refused “To Answer Questions” – Deutsche Bank “Systemic Threat” Is “Not ECB Fault”

Noam Chomsky Explains How He Was Banned From Mainstream Media

I recently watched the recent Noam Chomsky documentary, Requiem for the American Dream, and it was excellent. I highly recommend everyone watch it since it provides a historical roadmap for how positive change happens. Lessons that we will all need to put into practice in the coming years if we want to take the world off its current collision course with disaster.
With Chomsky already on my mind, I was excited to see an article published yesterday at AlterNet titled, Noam Chomsky Unravels the Political Mechanics Behind His Gradual Expulsion From Mainstream Media.
Here’s what we learned:
Ralph Nader and leading linguist Noam Chomsky engaged in a much anticipated discussion in early October on Ralph Nader Radio Hour. The two raised questions about changing the media narrative in a totalitatian-like state, and how Chomsky got dismissed from the mainstream altogether.
“How often have you been on the Op-Ed pages of the New York Times,” Nader asked Chomsky.
For Chomsky, the last time was over a decade ago.
“[I was asked] to write about the Israeli separation wall, actually an annexation wall that runs through the West Bank and breaking apart the Palestinian communities… condemned as illegal by the World Court,” Chomsky told Nader.
Chomsky would later pen a similar piece for CNN on the 2013 Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. But Chomsky has never been interviewed on the network; Nor has he appeared on NBC, ABC or CBS.
“How about NPR and PBS, partially taxpayer-supported.. more free-thinking and more tolerant [outlets]?” Nader wanted to know.
“I’ve been on ‘Charlie Rose’ two or three times,” Chomsky told Nader, adding that he had a curious story about a particularly Boston outlet for NPR based in Boston University.
“They used to have a program in their prime time news programs all things considered some years ago at 5:25… maybe once a week or so, a five-minute discussion with someone who had written a new book and there’s a lot of pressure,” Chomsky began.
NPR was going to allow Chomsky to present his book, “Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies” (1989).
“I  got a call from the publisher telling me when I should tune [in at 5pm] and I never listened [before], so I tuned in [and] there was five minutes of music… I started getting phone calls from around the country asking ‘What happened to the piece?’” Chomsky remembered.
He didn’t know.
“I then got a call from the station manager in Washington who told me that she’d been getting calls and she didn’t understand it because it was listed… she called back saying kind of embarrassed … that some bigwig in the system had heard the announcement at five o’clock and had ordered it cancelled,” Chomsky explained.
This is not what a free press looks like.
The irony of Chomsky’s media criticism being dismissed by the media is not lost on the former MIT professor, who remains constantly awed by America’s level of censorship.
“Any one of the former Bush-Cheney warmongers like Paul Wolfowitz and John Bolton and others have gotten far more press after they’ve left federal positions; in the New York Times The Wall Street Journal the Washington Post,” Nader said.
And unlike Chomsky, “They’ve been on television public television, NPR and they have a record of false statements; they have record of deception, they have record of pursuing policies are illegal under our Constitution under international law and under federal statutes such as criminal invasion of Iraq and other adventures around the world,” Nader pointed out.
But the media problem permeates thouroughly throughout other industries, like education and government.
“Now a society that operates in a way where propaganda is not only emanating from the major media but it gets into our schools, the kind of courses are taught, the content of the history, is a society that’s not going to be mobilized for its own survival, much less the survival of other countries whose dictators we have for decades supported to oppress their people,” explained Nader.
Below you can find Nader’s full interview of Chomsky as well as the trailer for the documentary, Requiem for the American Dream.

    Fed Policy – The most significant TRUMP card for the markets remains unknown

    While markets wait for the election, getting closer by the day- one big question – in fact maybe the most important question – What is Trump’s plans (if any) for Fed policy?  As we explain in Splitting Pennies – Understanding Forex – Fed Policy (Monetary Policy) TRUMPS any regulation, domestic political policy, corporate policy, or social movement.  In fact – the only thing more powerful than Fed policy is a nuclear arsenal (which is why – there is a correlation between the most powerful currencies and the most powerful militaries).
    The BIG Question
    Even TRUMP supporters don’t know the answer to this question – because Trump never explicitly said it.  Maybe Trump doesn’t understand Fed policy.  He is sure of himself that he understands debt.  Maybe he does know – but also knows that the people don’t know so it’s pointless to talk about it.  Whatever is the case – we don’t know where Trump stands on the one issue that will determine America’s economic fate one way or another – Fed policy.  Will the Fed continue Quantitative Easing?  Will radical Fed policies clean up a junk filled economy (for example, by raising rates to 10%) ?  Will Trump nationalize the Fed?  (Maybe – that’s what the Elite are worried about!) – Let’s make one thing perfectly clear.  He can do it!   99% of ‘folks’ don’t understand what the President really does, what his powers are, for example the President is more of a ‘ceremonial’ and ‘cultural’ leader than anything else.. But Trump would have the power to do something like this if President.  Would he do it?  Something like this – just as an example – would transform Wall St. and the US economy completely.  Maybe, as we’ve covered in previous articles, this is THE REAL DEBATE going on right now at the Fed, and behind closed doors on Wall St.  
    Let’s take a step back, and understand how far Presidential power stretches.  A great President, maybe one of only great Presidents-  Richard Nixon – Created the Forex market as we know it today.  In one swift move, Nixon defaulted on Bretton Woods and in the same moment, defaulted on his Gold obligations, and made the US Dollar the World’s Reserve Currency.  For detailed info about Nixon checkout this book.  Practically, although Nixon stiffed the French and other potential Gold customers that wanted payment in Gold – the world didn’t have many other choices.  For example, had France been stronger in that time, we’d all be using French Francs instead of USD.  Anyway, Nixon’s actions were a pro-Fed, pro-USD move- whether this was calculated or not is irrelevant.  The fact is that, the USD is really the only “One World Currency” in operation today, and will be for the forseeable future.  
    In case you are not following the way the world really works, Read this book: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.  This is a MUST READ for any trader, investor, economist, businessman, politician, lawyer, or anyone interested in the world.  The point here is that, yes – it’s true.  The Fed Chairman is the most powerful person in the world, because they control the money supply, the amount of US Dollars in the world, and the interest rates.  But – Trump could oust-em!  What does Trump think about the current Fed?  Well, he’s not happy with Fed policy, and says The Fed and in particular Chairman Yellen “Should be Ashamed”-
    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Monday accused the Federal Reserve of keeping interest rates low for political reasons, the latest in a string of often contradictory critiques of the nation’s central bank.
    The Fed vehemently defends the setting of its influential interest rate as independent of political considerations — a principle that is considered fundamental not only to the Fed but for central banks around the world. Yet speaking on CNBC, Trump said Fed Chair Janet L. Yellen should be “ashamed” of keeping interest rates so low for so long.  “She’s obviously political and doing what Obama wants her to do, and I know that’s not supposed to be the way it is,” Trump said.
    The latest such comment came Monday, when Trump responded to a question from a reporter about the potential for a Federal Reserve interest rate hike this year. “They’re keeping the rates down so that everything else doesn’t go down,” Trump said, according to reports. “We have a very false economy.”  “At some point the rates are going to have to change,” Trump added. “The only thing that is strong is the artificial stock market.”
    There we go- we have our answer.  At least, we have a hint on the answer.  But the BIG QUESTION remains – will Trump simply put in his own chairman – or abolish the Fed altogether?  Wouldn’t that be something.  Either way it seems Dollar Up for a Trump victory.  Put your limit orders in now – Open a Forex Account.

    ALERT: Markets to implode, only FX will be left

    Warning to investors – traditional markets are flawed.  In one of many hypothetical futures, not so far in the future, FX may be the only game in town.  As we explain in Splitting Pennies – Understanding Forex – it’s FX that drives the world, not stocks, bonds, commodities, or real estate.  Let’s take a quick look at some of the cracks in traditional markets.
    HFT Market to collapse, or drastically change
    During the credit crisis HFT snuck in a huge business for themselves in the stock market via Reg NMS by manipulating ‘order types’ and ‘latency’.  Well, that’s all starting to unwind.  Top HFT firms are fearful that the SEC is about to ‘spill the beans’ according to Bloomberg:
    Some of the biggest electronic traders are complaining that a new test in the U.S. stock market will compromise their top-secret strategies, one of their most valuable assets.  Citadel Securities and KCG Holdings Inc. are among a chorus of brokers questioning elements of a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission experiment, which began Monday, designed to whip up more trading in small companies. Their complaint is that the test will force firms to publicly expose detailed trading data with only the thinnest veil of anonymity, allowing competitors to reverse engineer how their prized trading algorithms work.  For high-speed trading firms, complex computer code is the secret weapon for profiting from the market. Some brokers say they fear that in their test, regulators won’t sufficiently mask their publicly reported trading data.  “It’s going to take someone exactly three seconds to figure out who’s who,” said Jamil Nazarali, head of execution services at Citadel Securities, which is the market-making arm of billionaire Ken Griffin’s Citadel LLC. Trading firms will “likely change their behavior to protect their intellectual property,” making the test’s results less meaningful, he added.
    Big Banks collapsing – SOON
    Previously to the “DB Crisis” – Europe’s biggest bank, Douche Bank, is now probably insolvent at best, and at worst – will form a black hole so big that it will suck half of the worlds banks and assets into it when it implodes.  DB isn’t just a bank, it’s a financial powerhouse – a superbank.  For example, if you’ve ever bought a currency ETF, it was probably offered by DB:
    Hmm.. only 35 ETFs in the USA.  Anyway, creating an ETF isn’t easy.  DB is registered in almost every country in the world, yes even in Malta.  They are in thousands of businesses.  Unwinding this behemoth will take decades.  Unraveling all of their crimes, money laundering, scandals, and derivatives is practically impossible.  Just one example of a $10 Billion dollar liability, in this case, just money laundering:
    Almost every weekday between the fall of 2011 and early 2015, a Russian broker named Igor Volkov called the equities desk of Deutsche Bank’s Moscow headquarters. Volkov would speak to a sales trader—often, a young woman named Dina Maksutova—and ask her to place two trades simultaneously. In one, he would use Russian rubles to buy a blue-chip Russian stock, such as Lukoil, for a Russian company that he represented. Usually, the order was for about ten million dollars’ worth of the stock. In the second trade, Volkov—acting on behalf of a different company, which typically was registered in an offshore territory, such as the British Virgin Islands—would sell the same Russian stock, in the same quantity, in London, in exchange for dollars, pounds, or euros. Both the Russian company and the offshore company had the same owner. Deutsche Bank was helping the client to buy and sell to himself…Although the bank’s headquarters remained in Germany, power migrated from conservative Frankfurt to London, the investment-banking hub where the most lavish profits were generated. The assimilation of different banking cultures was not always successful. In the nineties, when hundreds of Americans went to work for Deutsche Bank in London, German managers had to place a sign in the entrance hall spelling out “Deutsche” phonetically, because many Americans called their employer “Douche Bank.”  
    On the other side of the pond, Wells Fargo – previously one of America’s ‘trusted’ banks, “Main St. bank” – is collapsing after the market learned that their great sales figures were based on a house of cards that was, well, fraudulent.  If you’re not aware or not following this crisis, checkout this article for a simple explanation.
    Real Estate Market Shaky, at best
    There are a lot more apartments available for purchase these days in Manhattan. And fewer people are buying. Sales of previously owned condominiums and co-ops fell 20 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier as potential buyers grew cautious amid more choices, according to a report Tuesday from appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate. There were 5,290 resale apartments on the market at the end of September, 53 percent more than the number available in late 2013, the lowest point for listings.
    The swelling inventory is providing an opportunity to New Yorkers shut out of a market in which construction has been dominated by ultra-luxury condos aimed at the wealthiest buyers. Resales, particularly those priced at less than $1 million, were in chronically short supply in recent years, and those that made it to the market sparked bidding wars. Now, more owners are listing apartments to profit from climbing values, and they’re finding lots of company.  “Rapidly rising prices over the years have pulled more sellers into the market hoping to cash out,” Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel, said in an interview. “But buyers are more wary. There isn’t the same intensity of activity to burn through the new supply.”
    What’s next?  
    Hedge Funds, not capitalizing on the turmoil, and even losing
    In fact, this has been the year investors wanted to do anything but try to pick stocks. Active fund managers had their worst first half ever, with fewer than one in five beating a basic market benchmark, according to data from Bank of America Merrill Lynch that go back to 2003.Stock pickers were done in by two major factors: following the crowd and an uneven pattern of correlations among stocks. The 10 most-crowded stocks lagged the 10 least-owned by a whopping 18 percentage points, which BofAML called “an atypically high spread.”
    So what’s left?
    Forex Markets to dominate the next 20 years
    There’s always Forex algorithms, which Wall St. simply afraid of, because they don’t ‘control’ the FX markets.  Some FX strategies perform month in and month out like clockwork, a pension fund’s dream – but why go with something that works when it’s politically correct to lose with hedge funds (it’s good for jobs, right?).
    The point is that, FX is a money market – and a super set of other markets.  If the stock market completely crashes like 50%, investors will still have trillions in cash.  It will even create a dollar shortage.  But that cash has to go somewhere.  Some, will go to Euros, Swiss Francs, and other ‘money’.  Bitcoin isn’t a percent of a percent of a percent, although certainly money will flow into Bitcoin.  Bitcoin isn’t viable alterantive to major FX currencies simply because of acceptability.  It’s not possible to pay for goods in foreign countries in Bitcoin – but many accept US Dollars.  Until that changes – or until the United States of America ceases to exist as a country (which is probably the only event that could really obliterate FX markets) – then, FX is going to be the only game left in town.  Why?  Because, the US Dollar is supported by bombs.  As long as the US Army has enough gas in their tanks, and munitions in their supply, you can bet dollar markets will function.  Other markets, like real estate, don’t have such protection.  But there’s a good reason for that.  Because all markets DEPEND on FX.  Without a dollar market, the stock market couldn’t exist.  If you want to be Wall St.’s next HFT firm, you first need to fund an account WITH DOLLARS.  
    So, although many markets teetering on the brink of implosion, FX looking stronger than ever, and until there’s a viable alternative (which considering alternatives, China, Russia, Bitcoin, etc… not a real solid candidate next 20 years) we can expect FX supremacy and US Dollar Hegemony for the long term.  So, if you’re still naive to the realities of FX – now’s a great time to start learning!

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-10-04/alert-markets-implode-only-fx-will-be-left

    ALERT: US Real Estate Crash Imminent as Matthew threatens Miami Luxury Market

    It isn’t often such a clear market signal is painted such as the impending real estate market collapse.  It doesn’t take sophistocated algorithms or an MBA from Harvard to add up the math and the data and see that we’re on the precipice of a historic real estate asset cliff; and that the market is waiting for an ‘event’ to tip it over.  That event, it can be Hurricane Matthew.  That means this can all unfold THIS WEEK.  For those of us who have been following this trend for a long time (like, more than 10 years) this isn’t news, it’s just the obvious result of bad planning and decades of building a foundation on the wrong things (this is an educational metaphor – Real Estate Investors built their knowledge on the wrong ideals, the false axioms, and thus – invested in the wrong markets, on markets build on soft, unstable foundations…).
    As we explain in Splitting Pennies – Understanding Forex; the entire world’s economy, both micro and macro, can be explained through the prism of monetary policy.  Or in other words, if you master FOREX, you can master any market, because all markets are denominated in Forex.  Or in yet other words, markets are only able to function as a derivative of money markets – which Forex is.  
    Bubbles have persisted for years, but this last bubble that caused the 2008 crisis was based on real estate.  For a long time, US real estate prices always went up; until they didn’t.  So what changed in 2008?  Enter Quantitative Easing, a program designed by the Fed to create ‘liquidity’ in the market that was otherwise illiquid.  Starting out buying ‘toxic’ assets no one wanted, now the Fed has a diversified portfolio of many assets, much of which is real estate.  This is not the only thing propping up the real estate market.  Also, the Fed has given banks and hedge funds HUGE access to cheap capital, or free capital, in large quantities.  Let’s take the world’s largest, as the best example; Blackstone, with $100 Billion + to invest in real estate:
    Blackstone, helmed by global head of real estate Jon Gray, is the largest real estate private equity firm in the world. Since raising their first opportunistic real estate fund in 1997, Blackstone has been a dominant player in the industry with their simplified opportunistic philosophy of “buy it, fix it, sell it”. Just this month, Blackstone real estate surpassed a staggering $100 billion in assets under management. As part of a push towards a longer hold, core plus strategy, they recently closed the largest ever PE real estate fund at $15.8 billion. Furthermore, Blackstone recently acquired Chicago’s iconic Willis Tower, which they plan to enhance through value add renovations and a repositioning of the tower’s retail space.
    Well, not all $100 Billion is invested in Real Estate, but remember, they are leveraged, so they don’t buy for cash, so it’s not known what they’re real ‘real’ estate portfolio is.  Between the Fed buying MBS (Mortage Backed Securities), Hedge Funds & Private Equity Funds like Blackstone, and your typical foreign buyers fleeing corruption or a crashing economy in their own market – real estate is highly inflated.  This is of course, exaggerated in niche areas; Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Boston, New York, Miami, Greenwich CT, and many, many others.  Just take a look at what you get in Ohio for $4M and what you get in San Francisco for $4M.  Hmm… Something doesn’t add up here.  People in CA shocked at non-CA market values.  Hmm… and there’s high state taxes in CA, and pollution, a water drought, and fallout from Fukushima irradiating the crops and population, explosion of cancers.  Where do I sign?  
    Years ago, analysts said that in 50 years Florida will be underwater.  Real Estate investors didn’t feel that their feet were wet, so they ignored this.  Well, these analysts were wrong – it’s happening much, much, much faster.  Miami-Dade County is going to be hit the hardest.  If you don’t know about this issue, read this article here “A Rising Tide” :
    “This whole beautiful landscape’s going to change,” he said. Miami Beach consists of a long, low barrier island accompanied by a scattering of manmade islets. It’s one of the lowest-lying municipalities in the country, and its residents are leading the way into the world’s wetter future. Along the island’s low western side bordering Biscayne Bay, people have come to dread full-moon high tides, when salt water seeps into storm-drain outlets and the porous limestone that provides the island’s foundation, forcing water up and out into the streets and sidewalks and threatening buildings and infrastructure. And Miami Beach is just one small part of a region that’s in big trouble. If sea levels rise as projected, no major U.S. metropolitan area stands to rack up bigger losses than Miami-Dade County. Almost 60 percent of the county is less than six feet above sea level. Even before swelling of the seas is factored in, Miami has the greatest total value of assets exposed to flooding of any city in the world: more than $400 billion. Once you account for future sea-level rise and continued economic growth, Miami’s exposed property will far outstrip that of any other urban area, reaching almost $3.5 trillion by the 2070s. The sea level around the South Florida coast has already risen nine inches over the past century. Among experts, the optimists expect it to edge up another three to seven inches in the next 15 years and nine inches to two feet in the next 45 years. More pessimistic (some say increasingly realistic) predictions say the rise will be much faster. Even the very gradual rise of recent decades will make extensive infrastructure reengineering necessary—Mowry’s job. However, according to a report published by the Florida Department of Transportation, it will become difficult, expensive, and maybe impossible for these efforts to keep up with the accelerated sea-level rise that is actually expected. 
    Miami is spending $500 Million building walls and drainage to address this problem.  Read the 2012 Presentation in PDF here.  But will it be enough?  And what about Hurricanes?  A Category 5 hurricane can have a storm surge of 20 – 30 feet, such as Camille in 1969.  Storm Surge is when the water rises, completely – that means the ocean will rise 24 feet (Read about it here).  Matthew, if it struck Florida, would really be Biblical.  Billions of Dollars in damage would occur, just from the storm.  And this information is not ‘priced in’ to this already ‘frothy’ market, just see spring articles about Miami’s real estate crash herehere, and here.
    The other info that you need to know, since the early 90’s, the US Government manipulates the weather.  If you’re not up to date on this topic, you can read about it here in this groundbreaking book Chemtrails, HAARP, and the Full Spectrum Dominance of Planet Earth.  Or for a simple primer on Geo-engineering, checkout No Natural Weather: Geoengineering 101.  Then, why would they allow a hurricane to smash into South Florida?  Who knows, but if you want to look at the strange correlation between military events and Hurricanes, take a deeper look at 911 and Hurrican Erin – This book Black 911 is a great start.
    Matthew is now heading toward Jamaica, at which point it may settle down; Jamaica has mountains which Hurricanes don’t like.  But Florida is being warned.  
    Traders, tomorrow’s trade is easy; put in your buy limits above the MAs on HD, LOW, and get ready to short homebuilders, and other South Florida real estate companies.  This week is going to be a wild ride for real estate, regardless if Matthew hits FL or not.
    The market now is quiet, sales are down 80% in some areas (i.e. Greenwich, CT “Billionaire Capital”), but the panic selling hasn’t started yet.  An event such as a Hurricane in FL, or a big Earthquake in CA, can be the tipping point that starts it.
    This will hit the rent market too – as values collapse, rents will too.  Not only that, but a bad economy will put pressure on renters and their ability to pay.  This recent bubble, in both housing values, rent prices, and other assets – is just that.  A bubble.  It will pop.  And as we saw in 2008, each time the bubble bursts, the drawdown is a little deeper.  But real estate in particular recovered with the help of the Fed and numerous Fed players, as this was a political victory as well as an economic one.  It was seen as helping Main St. as well as Wall St.
    There’s other investments, other ways to make money than real estate, such as Forex algorithms.  But it seems that as usual, investors will need to have a huge loss before learning this lesson.  
    Pain – is the only real teacher!

    EES: Pizzaflation and the US Dollar collapse

    In case you didn’t know, facts about Pizza
    Pizza is actually America’s favorite food.  The Atlantic covered a DOA report that showed the cheesy stats:
    Like football, pop music, and democracy itself, pizza follows in the long American tradition of things that began overseas before the United States imported, violently altered, and eventually defined the institution. Although the first pizza shops didn’t open in the U.S. until the early 20th century, hundreds of years after the original Neapolitan pies, we now spend $37 billion a year on pizza, accounting for a third of the global market. The obsession deepens. On any given day, about 13 percent of Americans eat pizza, according to a new report from the Department of Agriculture. One in six guys between the ages of two and 39 ate it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner today. In part due to this obsession, per capita consumption of cheese is up 41 percent since 1995. Drawn from the report, here are seven facts about Americans and pizza, presented free of moralizing comments about whether or not it is healthy or sensible for the American diet to consist so overwhelming of bread adorned with tomato-cheesey gloop.
    Pizza, is actually an AMERICAN food, brought to America by the Italians.  Pizza was invented in Italy, but in Italy, Pizza is completely different, and not very popular.  In fact, Pizza is most popular in America.  It’s more American than Apple Pie.  Check it out:
    In 1905, a slice of pizza cost five cents. During the Depression, when families did not have much money, pizza became popular with everyone in the United States. Families were eating different types of pizza on the east and west coasts. A thick-crust pizza was called double-crust pizza or west coast pizza. When they had a large exhibit about pizza at the Texas State Fair, more people inquired about this food than any other.The first recipe for pizza appeared in a fundraising cookbook published in Boston in 1936. The recipe, for Neapolitan pizza, was made by hand. Dough had to be hand-stretched by pizzaiolos and housewives until it was half an inch thick. The pizza had cheese, tomatoes, grated parmesan cheese, and olive oil. Surprisingly, the dough was not made by hand, but cooks were told to buy it at a good Italian bake shop.However, pizza was mostly limited to Italian immigrant communities until after World War II, when American soldiers returning from Italy still wanted their pies. Popularity spread, and various American styles developed. Pizzeria Uno is credited with the invention of the Chicago deep dish pizza in 1943. This is known as tomato pie and was baked in rectangular pans in bakeries. Its crust was extra thick and it had seasoned tomato puree and was dusted with Romano cheese before it went into the oven. Some eventually had meat and thick cheese, and it was so thick, it often had to be eaten with a knife and fork.
    The American Dollar is collapsing
    From five cents a slice to $20 a Pizza.  What happened?  During this time, the US Dollar went down by more than 95%.  Let’s take a look at one of America’s favorite Pizzas, Numero Uno Pizza.  For those of you who have not had the pleasure to live in the greater Los Angeles area, where Numero Uno has had 95% name recognition, Numero Uno Pizza is a household name.  Interestingly, Numero Uno was founded in Los Angeles right around the time Nixon created Forex; 1970.  We’ve obtained an old Numero Uno menu (we think though, it’s from the 80s) that shows prices from that time:
    Wow!  .85 House Wine, less than $5 for a Carafe!  
    Now take a look at prices we’ve lifted from current NU store sites, such as Numero Uno Palmdale:
    The most popular NU pizza is the S5 “Slaughterhouse 5” which currently stands at $16.95.  We confirmed with the manager of Palmdale location that indeed; prices are due for a rate hike in January.
    From $10.85 to $16.95 isn’t too bad, Pizzaflation is not nearly as bad as inflation in other markets, most notably, real estate, groceries, coffee, and other items.  Using an inflation calculator, $1 in 1970 is about $6.21 today.  If the menu is from 1985, the S5 should be $24.29.  Other NU stores have it priced at $19.99.  In any case, for older folk, $20 is a lot to pay for a Pizza, in their mind.  But that’s only because of memory, of times past.  Inflation is a slow subtle tax.  From a ‘real dollar’ perspective, Numero Uno Pizza is cheap.
    Let’s understand the second component of inflation that’s less obvious – the deterioration of QUALITY.  You can get a Pizza today for $5 – but it’s a bunch of crap.  Like any product, you get what you pay for.  This part of inflation, the decline in quality, is less obvious but more damaging.  Every year, products get a little worse and worse.
    The real cause of Pizzaflation
    Real analysts must always seek the CAUSALITY  
    Inflation happens only for one reason:  Central Bank prints more currency.  More currency, chasing the same or fewer goods and assets, makes the price go up.  It’s really simple!  QE (Quantitative Easing) has been rampant in recent years.  Fortunately for consumers, most inflation has happened in financial markets, real estate, and other markets.
    In our household, we measure inflation with the “Burrito Index”: How much has the cost of a regular burrito at our favorite taco truck gone up?
    Since we keep detailed records of expenses (a necessity if you’re a self-employed free-lance writer), I can track the real-world inflation of the Burrito Index with great accuracy: the cost of a regular burrito from our local taco truck has gone up from $2.50 in 2001 to $5 in 2010 to $6.50 in 2016.That’s a $160% increase since 2001; 15 years in which the official inflation rate reports that what $1 bought in 2001 can supposedly be bought with $1.35 today.
    If the Burrito Index had tracked official inflation, the burrito at our truck should cost $3.38—up only 35% from 2001. Compare that to today’s actual cost of $6.50—almost double what it “should cost” according to official inflation calculations.
    Since 2001, the real-world burrito index is 4.5 times greater than the official rate of inflation—not a trivial difference.
    Between 2010 and now, the Burrito Index has logged a 30% increase, more than triple the officially registered 10% drop in purchasing power over the same time.
    Those interested can check the official inflation rate (going back to 1913) with the BLS Inflation calculator by clicking here.
    My Burrito Index is a rough-and-ready index of real-world inflation. To insure its measure isn’t an outlying aberration, we also need to track the real-world costs of big-ticket items such as college tuition and healthcare insurance, as well as local government-provided services. When we do, we observe results of similar magnitude.
    The takeaway? Our money is losing its purchasing power much faster than the government would like us to believe.
    It’s important for consumers to understand, Pizzaflation is not caused by Pizza makers.  Numero Uno actually is doing a great job keeping prices low, because their food cost, rent, and other costs, are all exploding parabolic.
    Los Angeles has the highest rent burden in America:
    Overall, rents in Los Angeles have doubled since the 1970s:
    But of course, that’s not counting other various fees, taxes, increased regulatory costs, increased insurances due to higher crime rates, and other factors.  Pizzaflation has hit Los Angeles hard, creating a ‘double whammy’ for businesses like Numero Uno.  And with LA’s median income flat since 1970, it makes one wonder who can afford a $20 Pizza.  But the remaining Numero Uno stores are mostly packed and have great reviews, so it seems that it takes something really Magic to survive the pressure of the Fed.
    To learn more about how the Fed decreases the value of the US Dollar via Quantitative Easing, checkout Splitting Pennies – Understanding Forex – your pocket guide to make you a Forex genius!  

    PANIC, ANXIETY SPARK RUSH TO BUILD LUXURY BUNKERS FOR L.A.’S SUPERRICH

    Illustration by Mario Wagner

    Oscar winners, sports stars and Bill Gates are building lavish bunkers — with amenities ranging from a swimming pool to a bowling alley — as global anxiety fuels sales and owners “could be the next Adam and Eve.”

    Given the increased frequency of terrorist bombings and mass shootings and an under-lying sense of havoc fed by divisive election politics, it’s no surprise that home security is going over the top and hitting luxurious new heights. Or, rather, new lows, as the average depth of a new breed of safe haven that occupies thousands of square feet is 10 feet under or more. Those who can afford to pull out all the stops for so-called self-preservation are doing so — in a fashion that goes way beyond the submerged corrugated metal units adopted by reality show “preppers” — to prepare for anything from nuclear bombings to drastic climate-change events. Gary Lynch, GM at Rising S Bunkers, a Texas-based company that specializes in underground bunkers and services scores of Los Angeles residences, says that sales at the most upscale end of the market — mainly to actors, pro athletes and politicians (who require signed NDAs) — have increased 700 percent this year compared with 2015, and overall sales have risen 150 percent. “Any time there is a turbulent political landscape, we see a spike in our sales. Given this election is as turbulent as it is, we are gearing up for an even bigger spike,” says marketing director Brad Roberson of sales of bunkers that start at $39,000 and can run $8.35 million or more (FYI, a 12-stall horse shelter is $98,500).
    Adds Mike Peters, owner of Utah-based Ultimate Bunker, which builds high-end versions in California, Texas and Minnesota: “People are going for luxury [to] live underground because they see the future is going to be rough. Everyone I’ve talked to thinks we are doomed, no matter who is elected.” Robert Vicino, founder of Del Mar, Calif.-based Vivos, which constructs upscale community bunkers in Indiana (he believes coastal flooding scenarios preclude bunkers being safely built west of the Rockies), says, “Bill Gates has huge shelters under every one of his homes, in Rancho Santa Fe and Washington. His head of security visited with us a couple years ago, and for these multibillionaires, a few million is nothing. It’s really just the newest form of insurance.”
    A hidden door by Creative Home Engineering leads to a secret passageway that connects to an underground bunker.
    Rising S Bunkers installed a 37-room, 9,000-square-foot complex in Napa Valley for an Academy Award-winning client that rang in at $10.28 million, with a bowling alley, sauna, jacuzzi, shooting range and an ultra-large home theater. Swimming pools, greenhouses, game rooms and gyms are other amenities offered. This year, on another Napa Valley property, the company constructed a $9 million, 7,600-square-foot compound with horse stables and accommodations for 12, along with four escape tunnels leading to outlets on the estate, multiple hidden rooms — in case “you let someone in whom you do not fully trust,” says Lynch — and an aboveground safe house “disguised as a horse barn.” The company also is designing a $3 million bunker for “a major sports figure from Southern California.”
    The company’s best-selling bunkers for L.A. are 10 by 50 feet, start at $112,000 and have their own power sources, water supplies and air-filtration systems: “These complexes accommodate families of four or five and are self-sustaining,” says Roberson, adding: “You can pretty much put a palace underground anywhere there is physically enough room.” Regardless, Ellia Thompson, chair of land use practice at Ervin Cohen & Jessup in Beverly Hills, notes that zoning guidelines vary throughout L.A., so one should check with the city department of building and safety about permits: “A special permit may be required if you are digging out more dirt than certain basement quantities.”
    Business has doubled in the past year at Ultimate Bunker, which just built a $10 million complex on a 700-acre property a few hours north of Minneapolis for a client “known for television, who has his own show,” says Peters. Two 1,000-square-foot bunkers (one for storage) are connected by 300 feet of tunnels to the main 6,800-square-foot home as well as three guesthouses that each boast a $200,000 bunker “to take care of his family and friends,” says Peters. “It’s like an underground mansion with more mansions on top of it.”
    Al Corbi, president and founder of S.A.F.E. (Strategically Armored & Fortified Environments), with offices in West Hollywood, says that his most spectacular projects were $100 million subterranean residences, one for a global venture capitalist and the other for an East Coast developer to mimic the Universal CityWalk promenade, with a pizzeria and wellness outpost that, he says, “resembles a Burke Williams day spa.” Corbi says both bunkers protect from nuclear holocaust (8 feet of soil blocks radioactive fallout), pandemic (a positive-pressure air system with HEPA filters keeps contaminants out), electromagnetic pulses and solar flares (using a metal encasement), among other threats. “Power technology has improved tremendously thanks in part to Tesla and lithium-ion batteries that only degrade a maximum of 10 percent after 30 years,” says Corbi. “And now there is food with a 25-year minimum shelf life. [The owners] could be the next Adam and Eve.” (Note to L.A. chefs, however: The rations are grim, ranging from beef Stroganoff to chili.)
    When it comes to the details of secret passageways and hidden doors, many in Hollywood turn to Arizona-based Creative Home Engineering. “We’ve seen year-over-year growth of about 20 percent, but perhaps more telling is an increasing percentage of clientele who need their secret door to employ high-security features,” notes president Steve Humble, who says before, 60 percent of secret doors in cigar rooms, home theaters, children’s bedrooms and the like were for novelty value. “Nowadays, 80 percent are used for security. In the past year, I have performed installations inside two nuclear-protected complexes with more than 10 secret doors each, one in the L.A. area owned by a plastic surgeon.”
    Film fantasies play a part in the choice of secret entrances. “Many of my clients come to me knowing what movie secret door they would like duplicated,” says Humble, who cites as top inspirations Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the Batman and James Bond franchises, Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Goonies, on which a popular access control device that “requires that a certain sequence of notes be played on the piano to get the door to open” is based. There’s also Get Smart: “At this moment, we are converting a phone booth [inside a private residence] so that when the user dials the correct number, the back panel opens to grant access to a secure area.” He adds: “I can tell you that we’ve built secret doors for many of the most recognizable and highly awarded directors and celebrities in Hollywood. There are a lot of Oscars and Emmys tucked away safely behind my secret doors.”
    1. A floor plan for an $8.35 million, 6,000-square-foot bunker from Texas company Rising S Bunkers includes a decked-out game room.
    2. The largest swimming pool that Rising S has built measures 40 feet.
    3. Fitness rooms are a must to compensate for a lack of outside activity.
    4. Natural light tubes and ultraviolet LED lamps promote growth in underground gardens of consumable plants and vegetables.
    5. Theaters seat as many as 20 people and come with 10-foot screens.
    6. Rising S has seen garages with 15 vehicles, including Rolls-Royces, muscule cars and armored personnel carriers (one client has three).

    CFTC fines Russia bank $5 million for $36 billion of phony ruble-dollar trades –

    The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission fined a Russia bank $6 million Monday for executing “fictitious and noncompetitive” Russian Ruble – U.S. dollar futures contracts on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
    The CFTC brought the enforcement action against VTB Bank, headquartered in St. Petersburg, Russia, and its subsidiary VTB Capital PLC.
    VTB Capital is a U.K.-incorporated bank.
    The CFTC’s order required VTB Bank and VTB Capital to jointly and severally pay a $5 million civil penalty.
    VTB Bank didn’t have the capital base to hedge a large position in ruble – dollar contracts, the CFTC said.
    So between December 2010 and June 2013, VTB Bank and VTB Capital executed on the CME over 100 block trades in RUB/USD futures contracts, with a notional value of about $36 billion.
    The purpose of the trades was to transfer VTB’s cross-currency risk to VTB Capital at prices more favorable than VTB could have obtained from third-parties.
    VTB Capital then hedged the cross-currency risk in OTC swaps with various international banks.
    That allowed VTB Bank to accomplish through risk-free, non-arms-length transactions in the futures market what it couldn’t do through the swaps market.
    The block trades were fictitious sales, the CFTC said. They were done without risk to VTB Bank and reported by the CME at prices that weren’t bona fide prices.
    Non-competitive and fictitious trades violate CFTC rules.
    VTB is the former Vneshtorgbank. The Russian government controls most of the stock in VTB. The Bank of Moscow is VTB’s biggest subsidiary.

    The CFTC said VTB Bank and VTB Capital cooperated with the U.S. investigation.

    The UK Financial Conduct Authority helped the CFTC in the investigation.
    _____
    Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He’ll be the keynote speaker at the FCPA Blog NYC Conference 2016.

    http://www.fcpablog.com/blog/2016/9/23/cftc-fines-russia-bank-5-million-for-36-billion-of-phony-rub.html 

    OPEN A FOREX ACCOUNT – YOU JUST MIGHT GET LUCKY

    Slowly… Then All At Once

    The staggering incoherence of the election campaign only mirrors the shocking incapacity of the American public, from top to bottom, to process the tendings of our time. The chief tending is permanent worldwide economic contraction. Having hit the resource wall, especially of affordable oil, the global techno-industrial economy has sucked a valve in its engine.
    For sure there are ways for human beings to inhabit this planet, perhaps in a civilized mode, but not at the gigantic scale of the current economic regime. The fate of this order has nothing to do with our wishes or preferences. It’s going down whether we like it or not because it was such a violent anomaly in world history and the salient question is: how do we manage our journey to a new disposition of things. Neither Trump or Clinton show that they have a clue about the situation.
    The quandary I describe is often labeled the end of growth. The semantic impact of this phrase tends to paralyze even well-educated minds, most particularly the eminent econ professors, the Yale lawyers-turned-politicos, the Wall Street Journal editors, the corporate poobahs of the “C-Suites,” the hedge fund maverick-geniuses, and the bureaucratic errand boys (and girls) of Washington. In the absence of this “growth,” as defined by the employment and productivity statistics extruded like poisoned bratwursts from the sausage grinders of government agencies, this elite can see only the yawning abyss. The poverty of imagination among our elites is really something to behold.
    As is usually the case with troubled, over-ripe societies, these elites have begun to resort to magic to prop up failing living arrangements. This is why the Federal Reserve, once an obscure institution deep in the background of normal life, has come downstage front and center, holding the rest of us literally spellbound with its incantations against the intractable ravages of debt deflation. (For a brilliant gloss on this phenomenon, read Ben Hunt’s essay “Magical thinking” at the Epsilon Theory website.)
    One way out of this quandary would be to substitute the word “activity” for “growth.” A society of human beings can choose different activities that would produce different effects than the techno-industrial model of behavior. They can organize ten-acre farms instead of cell phone game app companies. They can do physical labor instead of watching television. They can build compact walkable towns instead of suburban wastelands (probably even out of the salvaged detritus of those wastelands). They can put on plays, concerts, sing-alongs, and puppet shows instead of Super Bowl halftime shows and Internet porn videos. They can make things of quality by hand instead of stamping out a million things guaranteed to fall apart next week. None of these alt-activities would be classifiable as “growth” in the current mode. In fact, they are consistent with the reality of contraction. And they could produce a workable and satisfying living arrangement.
    The rackets and swindles unleashed in our futile quest to keep up appearances have disabled the financial operating system that the regime depends on. It’s all an illusion sustained by accounting fraud to conceal promises that won’t be kept. All the mighty efforts of central bank authorities to borrow “wealth” from the future in the form of “money” — to “paper over” the absence of growth — will not conceal the impossibility of paying that borrowed money back. The future’s revenge for these empty promises will be the disclosure that the supposed wealth is not really there — especially as represented in currencies, stock shares, bonds, and other ephemeral “instruments” designed to be storage vehicles for wealth. The stocks are not worth what they pretend. The bonds will never be paid off. The currencies will not store value. How did this happen? Slowly, then all at once.
    We’re on a collision course with these stark realities. They are coinciding with the sickening vectors of national politics in a great wave of latent consequences built up by the sheer inertia of the scale at which we have been doing things. Trump, convinced of his own brilliance, knows nothing, and wears his incoherence like a medal of honor. Clinton literally personifies the horror of these coiled consequences waiting to spring — and the pretense that everything will continue to be okay with her in the White House (not). When these two gargoyle combatants meet in the debate arena a week from now, you will hear nothing about the journey we’re on to a different way of life.
    But there is a clear synergy between the mismanagement of our money and the mismanagement of our politics. They have the ability to amplify each other’s disorders. The awful vibe from this depraved election might be enough to bring down markets and banks. The markets and banks are unstable enough to affect the election.
    In history, elites commonly fail spectacularly. Ask yourself: how could these two ancient institutions, the Democratic and Republican parties, cough up such human hairballs? And having done so, do they deserve to continue to exist? And if they go up in a vapor, along with incomes and savings, what happens next?
    Enter the generals.

    Wall Street’s 0.01%: The Guru Who Only Talks to Hedge-Fund Elite

    Jens Nordvig, one of the hottest prognosticators in finance, will sell anyone his secret sauce for winning trades for $30,000 a year.

    But if you want unfettered access to his best ideas and personal touch—the kind that the deep-pocketed hedge funds covet—be prepared to shell out about 20 times more.

    That two-pronged approach to research, off-limits (at least officially) at Wall Street banks, captures one of the most striking shifts in finance today: the rise of a class system where entire businesses cater to only the highest-paying clients. Of course, haves and have-nots have long existed in the world of finance. But the widening gap within Wall Street itself, between what the privileged few and most others get, is creating a new financial elite—what amounts to the 1 percent of the 1 percent.

    And if you’re not part of the 0.01 percent, the next best thing is to sell to it.

    “Investors either get personalized advice from someone they really trust, or it’s the data tools, good robots—and the price of those two things are different,” the 42-year-old Dane explained from his WeWork office in Manhattan’s Flatiron district one recent afternoon.

    For Nordvig, who left Nomura Holdings Inc. in January after five years as Wall Street’s top-ranked currency strategist, it meant leveraging that standing to build his firm, Exante Data, around a rarefied group of the brightest hedge-fund names— and the money they dole out.

    Exante counts Key Square, founded by George Soros protege Scott Bessent, and Adam Levinson’s Graticule, a Singapore-based firm spun out of Fortress Investment Group, among its clients, according to conversations with investors and people familiar with the matter. Graticule didn’t reply to requests for comment.

    Nordvig declined to identify specific firms, but says there are just “five to seven” large institutions, whose fees covered most of his startup costs. And by design, he isn’t accepting any new business. That’s because while Exante’s six employees are focused on its analytics rollout, Nordvig devotes the majority of his time advising his marquee customers.

    He’s in touch with them on an almost daily basis and is just a phone call or instant message away—any time, 24/7. His research is tailor-made to suit each one’s needs and Nordvig says he’ll often spend hours at a time with a single firm debating macroeconomic policy and trade strategies.

    In late July, Nordvig was up until midnight defending his high-stakes call to a hedge-fund client in Asia that the Bank of Japan would stand pat, rather than announce a new set of aggressive stimulus measures as everyone expected. (He dissuaded the firm from shorting the yen, which proved to be prescient as the Japanese currency surged following the non-event.)

    “At banks, it’s mass production. It’s Target versus Hermès.”
    So far, his backers like what they see.

    “Jens is one of the great thinkers in the market,” said Key Square’s Bessent, who oversaw Soros’ personal fortune before starting his own billion-dollar macro fund this year. “Part of what we did was we got him to control his number of clients. At banks, it’s mass production. It’s Target versus Hermès.”

    Nordvig isn’t shy about what he brings to the table. Prior to his years at Nomura, he spent almost a decade at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., where he rose to become co-head of global currency research and made his name with bold calls and savvy analysis. In between, he did a brief stint at Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater Associates. And Nordvig brushes off the perception among both admirers and critics that he can, at times, be just a bit too brazen in promoting himself. To him, it’s just part of the cutthroat nature of finance.

    “I have a track record of being quite detail-oriented, precise in my analysis and also able to develop new frameworks for thinking about things, and at the same time being quite pragmatic,” he said. “I’ve set up the advisory business so that the people I deal with are some of the biggest macro investors in the world, and I know their interests fit with how I think.”

    Whatever the case, there is little doubt the appetite for bespoke research like Nordvig’s is growing. Banks are slashing costs, cutting jobs and abandoning their ambitions to be all things to all customers in the face of a slew of regulations over issues like selective access and excessive risk-taking. An industry-wide slump in revenue since the financial crisis has also prompted bank executives to rethink the value of the commission-based model, where investment research is offered for free in return for trade orders.

    Many firms have eliminated analysts as they scale back research spending—making personalized service and attention all the more valuable. Some like Citigroup Inc. and Morgan Stanley have drawn up preferred client lists with code names such as “Focus Five” and “supercore” for top clients.

    “It’s a changing landscape,” said Matthew Feldmann, a consultant at Scepter Partners, a multi-family office, and a former money manager at Citadel and Brevan Howard. “People like Jens have found a niche area where all you need is a few wealthy individual customers.”

    Perhaps just as important is the proliferation of automated trading strategies and machine-driven data mining, which has replaced many traditional roles that used to exist on Wall Street (not to mention made it harder for hedge funds to outperform as technology makes financial data almost ubiquitous).

    Nordvig’s old job at Goldman Sachs exemplified that bygone era. As recently as 2007, he’d stand in the middle of the trading floor with mic in hand on the first Friday of every month, just before the 8:30 a.m. payrolls report. His task? Shout out his immediate take. If the U.S. added more jobs than expected, he’d cry “buy dollar-yen!” and within seconds, Goldman Sachs’s traders would hit the button on their keyboards to put in the order.

    “We used to be able to make so much money by just being fast,” he said. Yet today, it’s all done by robots.

    Amid the upheaval, Nordvig is confident his experience and smarts will ensure his high-priced advice remains in demand. But he’s not taking any chances.

    After years of lackluster returns and faced with the biggest withdrawals since the financial crisis, hedge funds are looking for any edge they can find. These days, that often comes from the world of quantitative analysis. Even legendary names like Paul Tudor Jones, who made their fortunes the old-fashioned way, are hiring a bevy of programmers and mathematicians to build out more sophisticated, computer-driven strategies.

    But not everybody has the research budgets to hire scores of Ph.D.s or pay for Nordvig’s white-glove service. That’s where the “data” in Exante Data comes in (Exante is derived from “ex ante,” Latin for “before the event”). Plenty of research superstars have decamped from Wall Street to set up boutique advisory firms, but Exante’s two-tier model is rare. Once the data business is fully up and running, Nordvig promises to give mere mortals on Wall Street the same type of data-mining tools once available only to the biggest quant shops.

    Nordvig says he has one overriding advantage: he simply understands markets better.
    Yet competition on the data front is heating up. Scores of startups are already scraping data and turning the information into actionable ideas. Goldman Sachs is the biggest investor in Kensho Technologies Inc., which analyzes historical trading patterns to predict how assets react to events like policy meetings and economic releases. An outfit called SpaceKnow Inc. uses satellite images of factories to gauge economic activity in export-oriented countries like China.

    Nordvig, in his typical cocksure manner, says he has one overriding advantage: he simply understands markets better.

    In coming months, Exante will launch its first data product for the masses. According to Nordvig, his data scientists have come up with a complex algorithm that precisely estimates how much the yuan exchange rate is influenced by China’s buying or selling of dollars, on a daily basis.

    There’s nothing publicly available that comes close to measuring intervention in such detail. But Nordvig says his algo succeeds because it can capture anomalies in yuan trading, like a sudden widening in bid-ask spreads, and then compare the data against freely-traded markets in big financial centers.

    While the tool can’t yet gauge intervention in offshore yuan and currency forwards, his backtested results show it closely tracks less frequently released official figures. And knowing beforehand can make a huge difference. Case in point: In August 2015, the People’s Bank of China unexpectedly engineered a weakening of the yuan, which blindsided investors and sent financial markets worldwide into a tailspin.

    “This is about knowing what topics are important to the clients you serve,” Nordvig said.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2016-09-15/wall-street-s-0-01-the-guru-who-only-talks-to-hedge-fund-elite

    There’s a $300 Billion Exodus From Money Markets Ahead

    With a seismic overhaul of the $2.6 trillion money-market industry weeks away from kicking in, money managers are bracing for a last-minute exodus of as much as $300 billion from funds in regulators’ cross hairs.
    Prime funds, which seek higher yields by buying securities like commercial paper, are at the center of the upheaval. Their assets have already plunged by almost $700 billion since the start of 2015, to $789 billion, Investment Company Institute data show. The outflow has rippled across financial markets, shattering demand for banks’ and other companies’ short-term debt and raising their funding costs.
    The transformation of the money-fund industry, where investors turn to park cash, is a result of regulators’ efforts to make the financial system safer in the aftermath of the credit crisis. The key date is Oct. 14, when rules take effect mandating that institutional prime and tax-exempt funds end an over-30-year tradition of fixing shares at $1. Funds that hold only government debt will be able to maintain that level. Companies such as Federated Investors Inc. and Fidelity Investments, which have already reduced or altered prime offerings, are preparing in case investors yank more money as the new era approaches.
    “All managers, like ourselves, are positioning around the uncertainty of the exact magnitude of the outflows,” said Peter Yi, director of short-term fixed income at Chicago-based Northern Trust Corp., which manages $906 billion.

    $300 Billion

    While Yi sees the additional outflow from prime-fund investors potentially reaching $200 billion in the next 30 days, TD Securities predicted in a Sept. 7 note that it may tally as much as $300 billion.
    Yi is preparing by shortening his funds’ weighted average maturity and avoiding short-term debt that matures beyond September. He’s not alone. For the biggest institutional prime funds tracked by Crane Data LLC, the weighted average maturity of holdings fell to an unprecedented 10 days as of Sept. 12. It’s not just floating net-asset values that investors are avoiding. Prime funds can also impose restrictions such as redemption fees.
    Amid the tumult, money-fund assets have held steady because most of the cash leaving prime and tax-exempt funds has streamed into less risky offerings focusing on Treasuries and other government-related debt, such as agency securities and repurchase agreements. These funds are exempt from the new rules, which the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued in 2014.
    A major repercussion of the flight from prime funds is that there’s less money flowing into commercial paper and certificates of deposit, which banks depend on for funding. As a result, banks’ unsecured lending rates, such as the dollar London interbank offered rate, have soared. Three-month Libor was about 0.85 percent Wednesday, close to the highest since 2009.
    Libor may stabilize after mid-October because prime funds may begin to increase purchases of bank IOUs, although the risk of a Federal Reserve interest-rate hike by year-end will keep it elevated, said Seth Roman, who helps oversee five funds with a combined $3.2 billion at Pioneer Investments in Boston.
    “You could picture a scenario where Libor ticks down a bit,” Roman said. But “you have to keep in mind that the Fed is in play still.”
    Financial firms paying higher rates to attract investors to their IOUs will push three-month Libor to about 0.95 percent by the end of September, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.
    Although bank funding costs are rising, it isn’t a signal of financial strain as in 2008, said Jerome Schneider, head of short-term portfolio management at Newport Beach, California-based Pacific Investment Management Co., which oversees about $1.5 trillion. 
    “This is not a credit stress event, it’s a credit repricing due to systemic and structural changes,” he said.
    The market for commercial paper has shrunk about 50 percent from its $2.2 trillion peak in 2007, pushing financial firms to diversify funding sources — choosing longer-term debt and loans in foreign currencies.
    At least $269 billion in commercial paper and certificates of deposits held by prime funds will come due before Oct. 14 and most issuers of that debt will need to find financing outside the money-fund industry, JPMorgan predicts.
    The hubbub in money markets has its roots in a crucial episode of the financial crisis — the demise of the $62.5 billion Reserve Fund, which became just the second money fund to lose money, or “break the buck.” The event contributed to the global freeze in credit markets and pushed the Treasury Department to temporarily backstop almost all U.S. money funds.
    With the Fed’s target rate still not far from zero, money-fund investors looking to pad returns may overcome their aversion to prime funds. Institutional prime funds’ seven-day yield was 0.24 percent as of Sept. 12, compared with 0.17 percent for government funds, according to Crane Data.
    “You’ll see the prime-fund space continue to shrink until we hit mid-October,” said Tracy Hopkins, chief operating officer in New York at BNY Mellon Cash Investment Strategies, a division of Dreyfus Corp.
    “After that,” she said, “I would not be surprised to see assets return, once customers get accustomed to the floating NAVs and want to earn incremental yield over government money-market funds.”

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    Seven College Endowments Report Annual Losses in Choppy Markets

    Seven public U.S. university endowments with assets of more than $1 billion including the University of California reported fiscal 2016 investment losses as lackluster economic growth and volatility drubbed markets.
    College endowments are poised to take the worst slide in performance since the 2009 recession. Funds with more than $500 million lost a median 0.73 percent in the year through June 30, according to the Wilshire Trust Universe Comparison Service. The Wilshire data, from fund custodians, excludes fees while most schools report returns net of fees.
    “It was a bit of a bloodbath,” as swings in the markets challenged stock pickers, Jagdeep Bachher, chief investment officer at the University of California system, said at an investment committee meeting on Sept. 9, according to a webcast of the meeting. “Last year was a bad year for active managers all around.”
    Ohio State University and California had the largest declines through June 30 among the seven at 3.4 percent each while the University of Virginia fell 1.5 percent. It’s shaping up to be the worst year for endowment returns since 2009, when the richest schools had a loss of 21.8 percent, according to the Wilshire service. For fiscal 2016, a benchmark 60/40 portfolio of the Wilshire 5000 Total Stock Market Index for U.S. equities and the Wilshire Bond Index returned 4.5 percent.

    Hedge Funds

    The value of the University of California’s endowment rose 2.2 percent to $9.1 billion from the prior year due to inflows from shifting cash from short-term funds to the endowment and royalty payments, Bachher said. The investment losses were driven by poor returns from public equity fund managers and hedge funds, he said.
    Market volatility was due to “central bank actions, slow-to-no growth worldwide, the oversupply of oil on a worldwide basis resulting in prices collapsing and the unexpected Brexit vote,” John Lane, chief investment officer at Ohio State’s endowment, said in an e-mail.
    Virginia’s best-performing strategies — private real estate and domestic buyouts — couldn’t offset losses in its public and growth equity sectors and its resources portfolio, the school said. The fiscal 2016 investment loss follows gains of 7.7 percent and 19 percent in the previous two years, showing how even the best-performing funds are saddled with a new reality of low returns.
    The University of Virginia Investment Management Co. is committed to its long-term philosophy, Lawrence Kochard, the chief investment officer, wrote in a report.

    ‘Significant’ Impact

    “We expect a wide variety of investment challenges going forward and believe macro-level factors will continue to have a significant impact on markets,” Kochard wrote.
    Kochard said the school is finding “pockets of opportunity” in areas such as non-U.S. equities.
    “We also continue to observe an investment community fixated on global macro risks — including a slowing Chinese economy, the implications of Brexit, the U.S. presidential election and central bank policies — which provides a good environment in which our global public managers can identify mispriced securities,” Kochard wrote.
    The fund has made changes to its asset allocation over time, according to the report. Public equities were increased in fiscal 2016 to 24.6 percent from 20.5 percent in 2012; and marketable alternatives and credit went to 14 percent from 9.3 percent. The management company decreased its allocation to resources to 4.5 percent from 7 percent, and real estate to 6.6 percent from 8.6 percent.
    Despite the investment loss, the value of the long-term pool increased to $7.6 billion from $7.5 billion because of contributions in excess of distributions and investment losses.

    Global Equities

    Ohio State’s biggest loss came from its global equities portfolio. The state’s flagship public school’s 7.2 percent loss in the allocation dragged down a 10.8 percent gain in real assets, according to the school.
    The University of Washington’s fund lost 1.6 percent. The drop was led by declines in its “capital appreciation” bucket, which includes a 20 percent asset allocation to emerging markets equity; 38 percent in stocks of developed markets; and 12 percent in private equity, according to the school.
    The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s endowment posted a 2 percent decline. The University of Iowa endowment’s investments fell 1.8 percent in fiscal 2016, with global equities leading the decline. The investment loss reflects the portion of the endowment managed by the foundation.
    The University of Colorado’s investment fund, which is managed by Perella Weinberg Partners, lost 2.6 percent, according to the school. The value declined to $1.06 billion from $1.09 billion a year ago. About 43 percent of the fund’s holdings are in private capital, real assets and hedge funds, with 6 percent in cash and fixed income, according to a report.
    While the annual returns were hurt by Brexit at the end of June, the fund was up almost 3 percent in July, Mike Pritchard, vice president and chief financial officer of the University of Colorado Foundation, said in an interview.
    “This is a time for all universities to consider what does the future look like,” Pritchard said. “Endowments are long term. You want to meet the short-term needs — scholarships, professorship chairs — and you also want to sustain the long-term spending power. That’s the balance were all looking at right now.”

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