Monday, February 21, 2011

Unhappy President's Day?

Just because the markets in the US are closed, doesn't mean there's no economic news from the rest of the world, and there's plenty.

Due to violence in Lybia, where President Moammar Gadhafi - via a videotaped message by his son - vows to fight the insurrection against his 42 years of tyranny, "until the last man standing," oil prices have gone ballistic, with WTI (crude oil on the NYMEX) has shot through $90/barrel and is fast approaching $100.

Americans may awaken from their three-day weekend with sticker shock when they go to fill up their cars, vans and SUVs with petrol.

Elsewhere, precious metals have also taken notice that the global situation has become extremely unstable. Gold is pricing right now at $1,406.70, up a whopping $18.10 just today. But the real story is silver, which spiked on Friday, but is putting that move to shame taday with a nearly 5% move higher, to $33.88, up $1.58! That's quite a rocket ship, there and it's more than just short covering. US investors will likely send both gold and silver higher as congress takes a week off, just prior to the most important vote of the new congress: whether or not to raise the debt ceiling.

Analysts on top of the situation feel the government needs to act by March 4th in order to avert a federal government shutdown, which leaves the congress just five days - after they return from their vacation - to work out their differences, and there are many.

One option is to raise the ceiling gradually, enough to fund the government for another month, and revisit the issue again, and, if necessary, again and again. This could be the kind of circus we get from our "leaders" - an endless game of chicken and "gotcha" while the Republic burns.

Nero would be proud.

Make note to grab as much cash out of your bank account as possible within the next two weeks. There could be fireworks dead ahead, and I'm not talking about the 4th of July variety. If the government does shut down, there could be a bank holiday right on its heels, and even without a work stoppage in Washington, the number of bank failures in the US is already up to 22 and we're not even through February yet. Four more went down on Friday; two in California and two more in Georgia, the bank failure capitol.

There were 157 bank failures nationwide in 2010, 140 in 2009 and 25 in 2008. Smaller banks have suffered the most, but the biggest - the ones bailed out by the US taxpayer - are still not immune.

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