Freud’s psychiatric conclusions have largely been discredited but he rightly maintains praise for understanding the central role of metaphor and narrative in human thought. Professor Cowen HERE, is only the latest to build on this theme although importantly, he concentrates on the negative, blinding aspects of the tendency. Nowhere is this more clear than in the “stories” that surround investments.

Choosing a metaphor presupposes a conclusion. For instance, there’s no way to hear “the Chinese economy is a bubble” without unconsciously associating the country’s outlook with fragility and inevitable disappearance of a soap bubble. If we describe China’s GDP as similar to a hot air balloon on the other hand, our subconscious will immediately become more suceptible to the argument that upcoming government stimulus will right the economic ship. (You see what I did there – the use of the word “ship” is insidious.)

Good metaphors are a double-edged sword and their ubiquity in stock pitches suggests investors remain on their guard, never accepting one outright no matter how successfully it seems to communicates the situation.

U.S. Treasury to China – Revalue Remnimbi or We Will

There’s a lot of talk around the markets and in Washington about China’s currency policy. What many want to know is whether the US Treasury will name China as a currency manipulator. Perhaps a more important question is, should China be named as a currency manipulator? And if it were named as such, what actions could the US take? In recent days the Chinese and the US administration have taken shots in the press at each other. The US is hinting that China is manipulating its currency to boost its economy. The Chinese is firing back saying that the US “should not politicize the remnimbi exchange rate issue.”

First, some background on the problem. Basic economics says that if you keep the currency of your country at a weak (but not so weak as to cause a collapse in it) level you help boost exports. The currency becomes weaker making your goods cheaper for foreign consumption. In a freely floating exchange system, the market determines the equilibrium value. Speculators look at economic statistics like GDP growth, interest rates, inflation etc. to figure out what a currency should be worth and then place bets accordingly. If speculators think that an economy can grow strongly while keeping inflation at a benign rate, they will bid up the currency of that economy. As that happens, the country whose currency is getting stronger could see a decrease in exports. This is caused by the larger amount of currency the importer uses to make the same purchase as previously made. (more…)

America Is On The Verge Of An Economic Catastrophe

 I don’t need to remind you of the frightening economic data Washington doesn’t want you to know — the nearly $13 trillion debt, 90% debt to GDP ratio (that does not even include the off-budget items, such as the $6 trillion owed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, or the $50 trillion of unfunded liabilities for programs like Social Security and Medicare)… And I certainly don’t need to reiterate the urgency of this situation. You know how severe the ramifications will be if we fail to take immediate action

Peter Schiff`s comments on the economy, stock markets, politics and gold. Schiff is the renowned writer of the bestseller Crash Proof: How to Profit from the Coming Economic Collapse.

Japanese Public Debt 2X GDP With Deflation Threat

In summary, Japan has “$9.5 Trillion in public debt”, 2x GDP (192% 2009 estimate, #2 behind Zimbabwe at 3x from with threats of deflation and falling wages. This is after 2 lost deflationary decades and a loss of 75% on the NIKKEI index since 1990 (39,000 to 9,700 today, 1st chart below). The good news is, most of Japan’s public debt is held domestically in Japanese Yen. Some analysts believe US Treasuries could end up like Japanese Government Bonds (JGBs) and catch a bid even with hardcore reflationary policies (see David Rosenberg’s debate on March, 2010). What about the S&P, would it follow the NIKKEI’s footsteps in a deflationary environment?  Or is the US economic machine too strong for that to happen.A 75% drop in the S&P from the October 2007 peak would be around 400, which is David Tice’s S&P target. What are the odds. Paul Krugman had an op-ed in the New York Times today titled The Third Depression. Hopefully Gold and the S&P move in tandem from here if more $ printing is coming. The 10-Year US Treasury Note is trading at $122 resistance in an ascending triangle (Chart 2) and I’m going to see what happens with the $USD at its 50 day moving average tomorrow.

John Taylor Of The World's Largest Currency Hedge Fund Sees Euro Dropping To $1.20 By August

John Taylor, chairman and chief executive officer of FX Concepts LLC, the world’s largest currency hedge fund, sees the euro dropping to $1.20 by August, and believes parity is possible. Be very careful, because as of today Goldman is now accumulating euros (as per its just released Sell recommendation). More from Taylor: “It’s going to be quick because things are really falling apart…. Some of these [countries] have to be thrown out [of the EMU]. If you look at a country like Latvia, which has been effectively in the Euro, has been saved by the European Commission and the IMF much like they are suggesting Greece will be, their retail sales were down 30% last year, the GDP was down 18%, it is expected to drop another 8% this year. Latvians are starving, the place is a disaster area: that’s what you have to go through to be a part of the Euro.” On whether his firm has felt any political pressure on putting on bearish euro bets: “None at all. We are SEC regulated and the information is there, but nobody seems to be caring.” Lastly, Taylor ridicules the WSJ story about the restaurant-based collusion: “Yes, they had a meeting and talked about how bad the euro was. But that they in fact had some impact: their assets are 1% of the daily volume. Somebody like us, we have a bigger position against the euro than those people put on.” Taylor says in the next three to six months, the dollar will be strongest against the euro, and Eastern European currencies. In a longer horizon, he says to be long Asia and short the euro. Bottom line: sell Europe, buy everyone else. And join the bandwagon… Just as Bernanke prepares the dollar’s next suicide move with inflation obviously not working.

Why is Jim Rogers Sceptical of India's Future?

Investor and Adventure Capitalist Jim Rogers remains deeply sceptical of India’s future. In an interview with Forbes India, he argues the country is sitting on a fiscal time bomb.

The finance minister has changed the direction of India’s budget deficit by reducing the target for 2010-11 to 5.5 percent.
You really believe it will happen? Go back over the years and see their previous claims.

He has got a lot of praise for that in India. Still you are not impressed. Why?
Even if it happens, it is not being done by sound budgeting. It is from selling off the family jewels if it happens.

Don’t you think a high deficit was justified last year when the government had to spend and help the economy revive?
No. They are just trying to push the problems out into the future rather than solving the underlying problems. Do you really think the solution for a problem of too much debt and too much consumption is more debt and more consumption?

Are we not living in extraordinary times when we have to follow such flexible policies?
We are indeed. They are making the problems worse in extraordinary times which require tough measures to correct decades of abuse.

The finance minister rolled back some of the economic stimulus measures he had announced last year. Would you have preferred to see a complete rollback than a partial one?
Yes. And more.

If you were to set an agenda for the government, what would that be?
Cut spending and subsidies dramatically. Many studies have shown that countries start having serious growth problems when debt is 90 percent of GDP (gross domestic product). India is now [at] 80 percent and will be [at] 90 percent soon under this budget. The subsidies distort the economy in less productive areas.

Full Interview: LINK

A Monster $69 Trillion Order Wreaked Havoc On The Stockholm Stock Exchange

Trading was halted in index derivatives on the Stockholm Stock Exchange today after a monster futures order valued at around $69 trillion appeared in the system, according to Swedish business newspaper SvD Näringsliv.

 The “trade” was a buy order for nearly 4.3 billion OMXS30 warrants (valued at nearly 460 trillion kronor), an amount over 131 times Sweden’s GDP. The OMXS30 is the exchange’s flagship stock index, and the error apparently caused enough problems to force a closure of the market.

report in Investment Europe said that despite safeguards, “somehow the order made its way into the order book, causing chaos for traders.”

SvD Näringsliv’s Gustaf Palm reports (via Google Translate):

According to the Exchange spokesman Carl Norell has no order of that size team into the system. Instead, it is about a parsing incurred in exchange system due to a technical error. The order, Norell writes in an email, anullerades, but still remains a problem why the index derivatives market is closed since just before 10 am this morning.

Sovereign Debt Estimates

Sovereign debt is a key driver of the current economic jitters. The chart below shows next year’s sovereign debt estimates for the G-7 and other key global economies – the U.S. debt in 2011 would be about equal to GDP ($15 trillion), while the debt loads carried by Japan, Italy and Greece would exceed GDP.

7 ways someone can claim a 90% winning rate

1. Mr. Hindsight

This person can point to any chart, and identify his buy and sell points with absolute precision. Usually recognized as an expert in his field of analysis, he can create stunning buy and sell signals for past data. Problem is, he usually can’t do it going forward. ADVICE: Ignore past “predictions,” and only follow Mr. Hindsight in real time. You’ll soon see his true ability.

2. Ms. Vague

Her market predictions are akin to reading the works of Nostradamus. She’ll say “the market will be up today, unless GDP figures are disappointing.” After the numbers come out, the prediction can be made to fit the outcome – “well, the numbers were only somewhat disappointing” or “other forces overpowered the market, so even though I was right, the market fell.” ADVICE: Turn off financial TV shows, since this is where Ms. Vague and here cohorts lurk.

3. Mr. Sneaky

This guy will have an ad that states “95% winning closed trades.” Sounds great, BUT it usually means that 5% of his trades are currently open losers, usually big losers, that he has held onto for a long time. ADVICE: Make sure all open trades are disclosed, too. Treat open and closed trades as the same. Don’t fall for the “this losing trade can always come back and be profitable” ploy.

4. Ms. Quick Exiter

In and out like a flash on winning trades, Ms. Quick Exiter will typically have losses 5-10 times her winners. But, she gets a lot of winners, and she wants to dazzle you with winning percentage. ADVICE: Look at total net profit. You probably will see a losing strategy, even with a 90%+ winning percentage.

5. Mr. Liar

If Mr. Liar can do anything to cheat, he will. In the past, he has stuck all his losing trades in one account, put all his winners in another account, and of course, only shows you the winning account. But, he has many other tricks up his sleeve, certainly more than I can name here. ADVICE: Track his trades in real time. Make sure they are specific and detailed enough so they cannot be misinterpreted.

6. Mr. Long Term

“The stock market will rise,” says Mr. Long Term. He is absolutely right, if you don’t pin him down on time. It may take 100 years, but stocks will eventually rise. But, the first 99 might wipe you out. Long term forecasters hope you’ll forget their predictions if they are incorrect. ADVICE: Treat any prediction, especially long term ones, with extreme suspicion. The fact is most experts are just guessing.

7. Ms. Really Can Do It

A rare and exceptional talent, this person is the real deal. No gimmicks, no tricks – just super high winning percentage and super high profits. ADVICE: Ask yourself “why would this person sell me their amazing secrets for $79, when if she is so good, she can trade and make unlimited amounts of money?” Answer: No one will ever sell you the ultimate key to trading success, and if they did, it would cost a lot more than you could afford.

So, now you know the seven members of the 90% winning trade club. Avoid these folks, and you’ll almost certainly become a better trader.

US Housing Market Was Artificially Inflated By 14% In 2007-2010 NAR Reports

Just the headlines for now:


Thank you NAR for proving what everyone knew: that the US housing market is one big lie. And next: here come the historical GDP revisions.

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