Monday, October 31, 2011

MF Global Bankruptcy, Bank of Japan Send Stocks Reeling

Anyone who assumed that equity markets would behave after last week's Eurofix found out today what a sadly mistaken assumption that is. Stocks fell right from the opening bell, stabilizing about two percent lower, but capitulating in the final minutes of trading to end near session lows.

Part of the catalyst for selling stocks was the widespread appreciation that not all of Europe's problems are solved, but also the trading suspension and subsequent bankruptcy filing by MF Global (MF), a primary dealer run by former Goldman Sachs CEO, former New Jersey governor and regular Bilderberg atterndee, Jon Corzine. (Yes, it's true, the rich do sometimes eat their own.)

The firm was under pressure recently after having made sizable investments in risky European sovereign bonds, many of which have blown up and become worth much less than what MF Global had paid.

A swell fact box from Reuters shows that MF Global is the 7th largest bankruptcy since 1980, though it's probable that any bankruptcies prior to that date are smaller than #15, IndyMac, which went bust for $32.73 billion in 2008. Also worth noting is that 13 of the 15 occurred after 2000, and three of the top four happened in 2008-2009. So, the question of whether MF Global's little $41.05 billion will cause consternation and contagion, and, if so, how much?

The bankruptcy filing showed Corzine's firm listing as its largest unsecured creditors, JP Morgan Chase (JPM) $1.2 billion and Deutsche Bank about $1 billion.

With Europe still unsettled despite the outline of plans being trotted out last week (and the market rallying strongly), there's still plenty of counterparty risk whisking around the toilet bowl of global debt and MF Global, being a primary dealer, had all the advantages one could dream of and still went up in flames.

Adding to Monday's melodrama was the poor report from the Chicago PMI, which came in at 58.4 for October after a 60.4 reading in September, yet another sign that the US economy may not be doing as well as some might imagine.

The Bank of Japan intervened in its own currency, selling yen and buying US dollars. This sent the dollar soaring and the yen plummeting, in a move the Japanese central bank hopes would improve conditions for the nation's exporters. The follow-on was a crashing Euro, which confounded forex traders after the Euro had risen dramatically against the dollar over the past three weeks. Along with US stocks, commodity prices were mostly lower.

While the kick-off of the week was a rapid reversal of fortune after the extended bull rally of the past four to five weeks, there is certain to be more fireworks ahead. The Federal Reserve begins a two-day meeting on Tuesday, with a rate policy announcement due Wednesday. Hints that the Fed may embark on another round of QE have been circulating, though Fed members have not been forthcoming with details. There is also a bevy of economic data releases scheduled, with October Private Payroll data from ADP and crude inventories on Wednesday, unemployment claims, third quarter productivity, October factory orders and ISM Services on Thursday, prior to the Friday announcement from the Labor Department on non-farm payrolls for October.

With this kind of beginning, the markets will need some stroong economic data to stave off another batch of selling into perceived strength.

Dow 11,955.01 276.10 (2.26%)
NASDAQ 2,684.41 52.74 (1.93%)
S&P 500 1,253.30 31.79 (2.47%)
NYSE Compos 7,563.38 240.56 (3.08%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,788,364,125.00
NYSE Volume 4,310,269,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1125-4532
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 59-39
WTI crude oil: 93.19, -0.13
Gold: 1,725.20, -22.00
Silver: 34.35, -0.93

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Researching Online Brokerages Worth the Effort

While many retail investors have fled from highly volatile equity markets and outflows from equity mutual funds have reached historic proportions (ICI reported that investor holdings in stock mutual funds decreased by 9.5% in September), the ongoing zero interest rate policy of the Federal Reserve has lowered the return on Treasuries and all other fixed asset classes likewise offer returns that barely, if at all, keep pace with inflation.

As stocks made huge moves in October, many retail investors missed out, and it's likely that more will pile into the rally, sensing that the problems stemming from Europe have passed and it's once again safe to invest in stocks. That rationale may or may not prove correct, but, whatever the case, being at least partially invested in stocks is a solid strategy in good times or bad.

If one is inclined to jump in, the easiest way is to plug right in from the comfort of home or office through one of the many online brokerages available. The range of online brokerage products and services has expanded greatly since the infancy of the internet back in the late 1990s, and it pays to research the various options available.

According to a recent ICI report, households with internet access owning mutual funds is nearly universal, with ninety-one percent of all households owning mutual funds have internet access with ninety-eight percent aged 35-44 connected to the internet from their homes.

Additionally, the report goes on to say that eighty-four percent of mutual fund–owning households with internet access went online for financial purposes, such as to check their bank or investment accounts, obtain investment information, or buy or sell investments, though only nineteen percent used the internet for trading purposes, so there is still plenty of room for more home use of online brokerages.

What any good online brokerage provides in the way of online brokerage products and services starts with a stable and easy-to-use interface, simplifying the process of buying or selling stocks, ETFs or mutual funds. Beyond that, one would be advised to seek a brokerage that does not have maintenance or inactivity fees, offers free dividend reinvestment plans and options trading at a low price per contract.

Other features may include free research tools such as screeners, tracking and historical comparisons, but fees are by far the main differentiator of online brokerages. Many offer packages of free trades for new users, low cost stock trades and the ability to have broker-assisted trades for special circumstances. Fees for mutual fund trading should be minimal to free. For users who wish to trade on margin, rates vary widely and should be investigated thoroughly. The ability to transfer funds without hassle over the internet, to and from a personal checking account should be standard. Low minimum requirements, both for an initial funding and ongoing transfers is also a must.

A number of brokerages have expanded beyond stocks and mutual funds to forex, commodities and bonds, so an astute investor should prepare a list of requirements and priorities before opening any online account.

Stocks inherently have risk, so there's no reason to add to the risk and frustration by choosing an online brokerage that doesn't fulfill all of one's needs.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Markets Calm After Massive Post-Eurofix Advance

For a day, at least, US equity markets responded in a fashion similar to what most wizened investors are accustomed. There were no wild swings or sudden accelerations, flash-crashes or HFT-inspired momentum runs. Volume was slight, as investors took a wait-and-see approach after Thursday's massive run-up, inspired by the market salve applied by European leaders.

One can imagine that said leaders engaged in some hearty back-slapping, after delay upon delay in dealing with the three separate issues involving the stability of the Euro as a currency and the Eurozone as a political/economic entity. Recapping, Greek bond-holders were to receive a 50% haircut, banks would get about $140 billion in recapitalizations and the size of the EFSF would be expanded to Euro 1 Trillion, or about $1.4 Trillion US. After negotiations had spilled into Thursday morning, the Europeans actually did deliver an outline that would satiate most of the news-hungry financial journalists and provided a framework for what is sure to be a fluid situation for months and years to come in one of the world's largest economic blocs.

For that, investors took a casual Friday attitude with them today, shoring up positions, taking profits and generally tape-watching to see if there would be any disruption to the relative calm. There were not, globally, as Asian markets were mostly higher, while European bourses and US equity markets were flat to split.

The Dow traded in a narrow range of less than 90 points, the NASDAQ and S&P 500 following with similar patterns. It was like a financial seventies flashback, without the disco music, flared jeans or leisure suits, thank goodness.

Only economic data releases could possibly upset the mood, but those delivered early in the day - personal income up 0.1%, personal spending rising by 0.6% and the University of Michigan's Consumer Sentiment gauge surprisingly up to a reading of 60.9 in October after a posting of 57.5 in September - were, for the most part, benign.

To say that it was a dull day was most likely an understatement and while some might decry the fact that there was no follow-through, one must consider the levels at which stocks are trading. October 2011 is on track to be not only the best October in the history of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, but the best month in terms of points gained in that index's long and storied history. There was probably as much chatter about the World Series as there was about stock moves. Investors have staked out positions and appear, for now, to be standing pat. A rest at these current levels would be neither surprising nor unusual. Even a further profit-taking decline would be an almost welcome reaction.

Macro-economic events have overshadowed what is usually a busy earnings season, though not completely. There is a sense that market turmoil has abated and global stocks are doing just fine, in deference to the protesters carousing in the Wall Street area and other cities.

Like kids after a raucous recess period, maybe all Wall Street wanted, or needed, was a time out.

There's a World Series game seven on Friday and an autumn weekend ahead. We'll worry about next week when it arrives.

Dow 12,231.11, +22.56 (0.18%)
NASDAQ 2,737.15, -1.48 (0.05%)
S&P 500 1,285.08, +0.49 (0.04%)
NYSE Compos 7,803.94, -10.05 (0.13%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,862,553,500
NYSE Volume 4,536,691,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2844-2792
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 125-34
WTI crude oil: 93.32, -0.64
Gold: 1,747.20, -0.50
Silver: 35.29, +0.18

Choosing the Right Money Market Account

With interest rates at historic lows, individuals and funds which are primarily risk-averse or on fixed incomes need to carefully choose their preferred investment vehicles, because inflation is going to eat into most of what's earned in either dividend-producing or fixed-rate investments.

Nonetheless, there are options which can be investigated in search of the best interest rates on money market accounts, where the goal is not growth nor income, but, rather, preservation of capital against the ravages of inflation, which is running at an annual rate of three to six percent, depending upon the source and one's own individual lifestyle choices.

Among the more flexible choices for investors these days are money market accounts, which, unlike certificates of deposit or US Treasury bonds, doesn't tie up an investor's capital for months or years at a time. Modern money market accounts can be found within offerings from brokerage accounts, through banks, credit unions or other lending or financial institutions, and the benefits of holding one's money in one are myriad, from limited tax liability to some which offer checking accounts upon which one can draw out funds or even debit cards tied to the account, which makes certain money market accounts not only wise investments, but useful choices in today's fast-paced environment.

Due to regulations and requirements under Regulation Q, which defines and governs money market accounts, most institutions limit the amount of money one can withdraw in a given time frame (usually monthly) or the number of transactions one can make within a money market account without incurring fees or penalties. Thus it makes good sense to investigate some of the literally thousands of web sites which offer comparisons or informational links concerning personal investing in money market accounts. Since money market accounts are regulated under the auspices of the US Treasury, understanding the rules and tax implications is a good first step to learning which funds or accounts fit best with your individual situation.

Once a decision is made to open such an account, a search for the best interest rates on money market accounts should be the next undertaking, though it pays to read the fine print, because, like all investment or financial accounts, there are multiple choices that may or may not be beneficial to your particular goals.

At worst, money market accounts are useful tools for keeping the money you do have, especially if you're concerned about volatility or risk in other markets, such as stocks, bonds, or derivatives, the most risky of all investments. Most money markets are government guaranteed against default, so any funds committed to them are as safe, if not safer, than money in a bank.

Flexibility is key, so choose a money market account that meets your established needs, offers a fair interest rate without onerous restrictions, and you'll sleep well at night, knowing your money is in a sound and secure environment.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Global Stocks in Love with European Rescue Plan

If yesterday's gains were the equivalent of irrational exuberance, then today's stock risings around the world must be something akin to unconditional love for all things European, Euro, Eurozone or Euro-centric.

In the pre-dawn hours of Thursday, the meeting of leaders from the 17 nations comprising the the Eurozone - the nations employing the Euro as official currency - within the 27-nation European Union, broke from their marathon meeting and outlined a bold, yet still unfinished plan to stave off the collapse of Greece, keep key European banks solvent and expand the European Financial Stability Facility (yes, we know, you were wondering what EFSF stood for) to Euro 1 trillion ($1.41 trillion).

Greek debt-issuers, denominated mostly by major European banks, would be required to write down bonds by 50% (a haircut, as it is known), a proposal that many of the prominent banks had wished to avoid - and still may fight - was pushed through by the Eurozone leaders as a necessary action to keep the government of Greece from default and insolvency. The total amount to be written down on Greek debt came roughly to Euro 100 billion ($141 billion), though analysts debated the actual figure, most arguing the the recapitalization of the banks must be a much higher number.

Despite the lack of clarity over the details of the plan, stock indices around the world exploded to the upside on the news. The Hang Seng gained 3.26%, with other markets in the region all positive, though it was the European bourses themselves which registered the largest gains by far.

In Germany, the DAX finished more than 5% higher, the French CAC-40 soared 6.28% and Austria's ATX surged 6.11%. Other european markets registered significant gains.

While the European markets were notching higher through their afternoon, US futures were indication an explosive open with Dow futures in the green to the tune of - at times - more than 300 points. When US markets opened, the response was quick and certain, with all of the major indices higher in the early going, the NASDAQ setting the pace all day and finishing with a phenomenal gain of nearly 88 points and the S&P outdoing it with a 3.43% hike by days' end.

That Europe's long-awaited plan will proceed without hitches is uncertain, though there are sure to be bumps along the road. For now, however, the global stock market reaction appears to be showing broad approval and unequivocal support.

Buoying the euphoric sentiment in the US was the initial reading of US 3rd quarter GDP, which came in as expected, showing a growth rate of 2.5%, when skeptics of the somewhat-dormant US recovery had predicted much lower numbers, some believing that America was heading back into recession. With the holiday season fast approaching, chances for a double-dip recession have by now been effectively squashed.

Not only were stocks radically higher, with the Dow piercing the 12,000 threshold for the first time since August 1, the index on pace for it's best October ever, but commodities were also up sharply across the board, with oil, gold, silver, corn, soybean and wheat futures all posting superlative gains.

At the end of the day, the markets put on a show of global confidence not seen in some time, registering some of the best gains since the 2008-09 US financial catastrophe. What remains to be seen is whether the European leaders can actually implement the plan and keep the global economy churning. For today, at least, the consensus seems to be primed for their best efforts.

Dow 12,208.55, +339.51 (2.86%)
NASDAQ 2,738.63, +87.96 (3.32%)
S&P 500 1,284.59, +42.59 (3.43%)
NYSE Composite 7,813.99, +307.84 (4.10%)
NASDAQ Volume 2,851,696,750
NYSE Volume 6,600,709,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4956-827
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 282-31
WTI crude oil: 93.96, +3.76
Gold: 1,747.70, +24.20
Silver: 35.11, +1.80

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Irrational Exuberance, Part II or Squared to the Power of X

Talk about irrational exuberance, the term applied to stock market speculation by the liar-crook-Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan back in the heady days of the internet revolution of 1996 (actually, December 5, 1996), when the "esteemed" Chairman uttered:
Clearly, sustained low inflation implies less uncertainty about the future, and lower risk premiums imply higher prices of stocks and other earning assets. We can see that in the inverse relationship exhibited by price/earnings ratios and the rate of inflation in the past. But how do we know when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values, which then become subject to unexpected and prolonged contractions as they have in Japan over the past decade?

While Greenspan was a few years ahead of his time - the great dotcom bust occurred in 2000 - his warning to speculative investments was not well-heeded then, just as today, practically anybody not predicting unlimited growth potential and stocks soaring to new levels is routinely given short shrift by the establishment Wall Street press. But suppose someone were to look at the past three-and-a-half weeks (or, extrapolating out to the past three-and-a-half years)and say something to the effect:
Let me get this straight. The hopes of the US stock market are pinned to perpetual zero interest rates at home and hope that a collective of mostly bankrupt European nations will cobble together a lending facility designed to keep certain mostly Southern European governments from defaulting on their massive debts by bailing out banks and then borrowing even more hundreds of billions of euros from them. That sends stocks ten to twelve per cent higher over the course of the past three-and-a-half weeks and we haven't even seen details of the plan. I would call that either wishful thinking, a complete fake-out or irrational exuberance squared and to the power of X, X being the number of idiots who believe issuance of more debt will solve a problem that began because of excessive debt.

Perhaps the imagined quotation is not quite as erudite or economically succinct as Greenspan's more famous lines, but the message is very clear, nonetheless and it is exactly how the Europeans plan to solve their various deep and myriad problems with finance. Most of the known world is so heavily indebted - spilt between governments, banks and businesses and individual households - that most should be barred from going further into debt. Fortunately for most Americans, this is exactly the case, as banks have not lent to anybody or anything besides the most creditworthy since the financial calamities of 2008. The mega-banks' own fears of their own imminent demise forced them into tighter lending standards after they realized (too late, though, since they are bankers, after all, they should have known better) that the trillions of dollars in mortgage loans made to people without adequate credit, jobs or income might just default and spread the contagion of massive debt default throughout the banking system.

Let's face it, they knew exactly what they were doing, peddling s&*t securities, disguised as top-shelf, AAA credit risk, by bundling together all of the garbage sub-prime, alt-A and payday loan-type mortgage junk into massive tranches of mortgage-backed securities and selling them to whomever came up with the cash. The bankers didn't really care that they would implode the system, knowing full well that their well-paid lackeys, aka bought-and-paid-for elected representatives of the US Congress and the Presidency would not allow them to fail. Besides, they had already absconded with billions of dollars in fees and other payments from the unsuspecting suckers they swindled.

Of course, this is now ancient history, as none of the bankers have gone to jail, nor even been investigated, much less tried for their egregious crimes. Instead we have the little show of insider trading by a couple of immigrants, Raj Rajaratnam (already indicted, tried and sentenced) and Rajat Gupta (indicted today on five counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud) to act as fall guys for the white, Wall Street elite.

Both are (were) rich, important and notably non-white and not natural-born American citizens. Rajaratnam was born in Sri Lanka and is of Tamil descent. Gupta was born in India. The message is clear. White guys who commit white collar crimes walk free. All others can, and likely will, be used as fall guys, protecting the brotherhood of the saintly banker elite. These guys may do jail time, but it won't be tough. Rajaratnam is already appealing his conviction and 11-year sentence, a process that could take years. Meanwhile, he's still free, at least until November 28. That's the date the judge set for him to surrender to authorities. Place your wagers on whether "Raj" flees the country or is admitted to a hospital. He suffers from multiple health issues, including diabetes.

It's pretty clear that these dark-skinned fellows are just actors in a well-scripted play that goeswell outside the bounds of traditional jurisprudence. Steal a car or a sell a dime bag of grass and justice will be meted out swiftly and surely. Steal billions of dollars and walk away.

So, expecting Wall Street to respond properly to the current European stupidity is just another example of the absurdity of economics, circa. 2011. Greece is already half-way to default, with Italy, Belgium and Spain close behind. Portugal and Ireland have lost their sovereignty to the international banking cartel, the citizens of those countries reduced to nothing more than indentured debt slaves. France teeters on the precipice of recession and the whole bunch will probably take down Germany - the only semi-stable country on the continent - with the lot.

All of that adds up to a buying frenzy of US stocks. If this isn't the most cockeyed, woeful example of irrational exuberance ever seen, I challenge anybody to make sense of it all. The contagion from the eventual failure of the Euro will spread like wildfire around the globe, affecting everything we buy, sell or touch. But until then, buy stocks, You can always sell them just before the next market crash.

Dow 11,869.04, +162.42 (1.39%)
NASDAQ 2,650.67, +12.25 (0.46%)
S&P 500 1,242.00, +12.95 (1.05%)
NYSE Composite 7,506.15, +105.33 (1.42%)
NASDAQ Volume 2,153,615,250
NYSE Volume 4,873,521,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4346-1278
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 87-52
WTI crude oil: 90.92, -2.25
Gold: 1,723.50, +23.10
Silver: 33.31, +0.26

Are Penny Stocks Key to the Investment Future?

It's well known that small businesses produce the bulk of new jobs in America, year in and year out, but that thesis may be more prescient in a "muddle through" or stagnant economy, such as the one that has prevailed the past three to five years. While the general stock market has seen significant gains since the '08-09 meltdown, smaller companies, despite lack of adequate access to capital for many, have been flourishing.

Most big, corporate stock advisors or brokers will tell you that small caps are the way to go if you're looking for growth, but only nimble advisors outside the mainstream with great research, like Timothy Sykes, can offer you the next top penny stock.

Penny stocks come in all manner of varieties, from small restaurant chain concepts to high-tech startups to the popular "green" companies which don't generally get the press or the credit for their risk-taking mindset. Finding these companies requires a lot of time and research, something the average home investor doesn't have and that's the exact reason why scouring the web for information on particular companies may not be the best approach.

In addition to some of these companies having little time nor money to spend on press releases and public relations, by the time big breakthroughs occur, it's often too late, the stock having already made a significant move.

That is why it's useful to follow Sykes and maybe a few other experts in the penny stock universe, as gains on some of these top picks have produced extraordinary gains in a relatively short period of time.

Small business is the driver of growth in America, and penny stocks are the instrument by which the average investor can keep pace or exceed the ultra-insiders of Wall Street. Think about it. Wouldn't it be better to be in on the ground floor of a little-known company with a load of upside, than a run-of-the-mill S&P 500 company whose every move is telegraphed over CNBC and more than likely previously dished out to the big brokerages? Why pin one's hopes on the big Wall Street-connected companies, many of which are responsible for the high unemployment and tight banking policies that have slowed US productivity to a crawl, when you can invest in some of the most exciting, albeit risky, ventures on the planet.

If you're looking for an edge and don't mind high risk, Timothy Sykes and his website are probably worth the time to investigate.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Euro Finance Ministers Meeting Cancelled; US Stocks Take a Dive

Anybody with half a brain and even a cursory understanding of Europe's debt crisis (or, circus) could have and should have seen this coming a mile away: the meeting of European finance ministers, scheduled for Wednesday, has been cancelled. While the general summit of Euro zone nation leaders will still occur, as planned, the finance minister meeting was supposed to issue some kind of document or plan outlining the strategy of saving Greece and other nations from defaulting.

The 27 member ecofin meeting was supposed to have dealt with the recapitalization of many of Europe's largest banks, most of which have been decimated by ongoing debt issues in Greece, Portugal and Ireland. While this particular piece of the Euro puzzle has temporarily been put on hold, the general summit of Eurozone leaders will combine the bank issues with two other important elements: how to deal with the losses incurred by banks which loaned to Greece (the bond "haircut") and how large (and leveraged) the bailout EFSF fund will be.

As has been the case in the recent past, US stocks took a major hit on news that Europe was still inching toward a comprehensive solution. Expert opinion now believes that the Euro situation will take months and probably years to be worked out; any proposed solutions will have to go through a rigorous process of scrutiny and ratification by member nations. In the meantime, Europe is sinking faster and faster into recession and citizens are rightfully angered over the inability of leaders to come to any kind of meaningful consensus on the various great problems.

If this seems like deja vu all over again, it's because the Europeans are master foot-draggers, routinely missing deadlines and making delays - for any manner of reasons - on important, pressing issues. This is just more of the same, and the game is getting very old, very quickly.

Here in the US, the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city and 10-city composite readings for August came in below their year-ago levels by 3.8 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively, though both indices edged up slightly over July, posting a gain of 0.2%. In essence, what the Case-Shiller survey found was that while home prices are still falling, year-over-year, they are not falling as quickly, though that's of little comfort to the millions of homeowners whose homes are worth well less than what they paid for them, a condition known as being underwater.

At 10:00 am EDT, the Conference Board released its latest consumer confidence reading, finding that confidence was at a level not seen since the depths of the 2008-09 recession, at 39.8. Also, only 9.1% of respondents are expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months, a depressing figure considering that the US is supposed to be a good 12-18 months into recovery.

Stock traders sense that things are not going well, despite the markets in October having one of their best months of the year. Sooner or later the truth will set everyone free.

Dow 11,706.62 207.00 (1.74%)
NASDAQ 2,638.42 61.02 (2.26%)
S&P 500 1,229.05 25.14 (2.00%)
NYSE Compos 7,400.82 146.81 (1.95%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,810,687,875.00
NYSE Volume 4,406,436,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1024-4602
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 67-35
WTI crude oil: 93.17, +1.90
Gold: 1,700.40, +48.10
Silver: 33.05, +1.41

Monday, October 24, 2011

Euro Rising Amid Escalating Debt Crisis; Gold Worth $11,000/Ounce?

There are now differing views over the ongoing European debt crisis, which made Monday a banner day for the pair trade of short US dollar/long US stocks.

The view widely held by Wall Street influencers is the one promoted by the well-compromised "news" organization, Reuters, a proxy for the Wall Street/Washington oligarchy currently under attack by the Occupy Wall Street and other, spawned protest movements. Reuters reports that there is growing confidence that the EU leaders will forge a broad agreement with which to deal with the Euro-zone's debt issues by Wednesday of this week. Such wishful thinking pushed the Euro to a six-week high against the dollar, sparking the rally in US equities on the cheaper - for now - US dollar.

Alternately, NPR, in the embedded radio clip below, headlined its story Agreement On Debt Crisis Eludes EU Leaders, citing differences in approach by the various leaders amid calls for austere cutbacks in Italy to stem its own set of problems.

Realistically, nobody has a very good handle on where this is all headed, though widespread agreement seems a long shot. Greece has needed two rounds of bailout money already, and the country has been forced to suffer through doubt, derision, protests, strikes and riots in recent days as the government agreed to severe austerity measures, cutbacks in services and layoffs to help the government avoid running out of money.

Some kind of European plan is supposed to be released to the public by Wednesday, so there's probably no reason for stocks or the Euro/Dollar trade to deviate much until then. Details of the plan have been hashed about, though nothing is for certain except that it will include bailout money for some of Europe's largest banks (called: recapitalization) and some funding and dispersal mechanisms for the EFSF, the newly-created sovereign debt fund that is supposed to provide much-needed liquidity to the Euro system. Of course, the Euro money machine is beginning to look a lot like another global Ponzi scheme, with indebted countries providing funding through various channels to even-worse indebted nations like Greece, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

Anyone with a view of history longer than his or her current lifespan might have a better idea of where the Greek crisis is headed and it is most certainly not a happy place. Usually, when governments spend or steal too much of their citizens' money, overtaxing and under-delivering on promises and services, it means the end of the reigning regime, either trough violent overthrow or peaceful negotiation, though the former, albeit it's bloody features, has been more successful through the pantheon of history in securing the absolute rights of individuals while removing parasitic forces of government from the inflicted nation.

In Greece, it appears that the rowdy protesters have slowly but steadily been gaining ground and, with the emergence of Occupy Wall Street and other such groups, populist movements seem to be spreading faster than government efforts to defame or derail the groups. One interesting development was Michael Moore's appearance on CNBC this morning.

While the interview was not a first for Moore on CNBC, the filmmaker and champion of the "little guy" was allowed on air for over 11 minutes, and made some strong points on the inequitable economic situation facing all but America's wealthiest people. The piece is well worth the viewing time, as Moore made his case to Carl Quintanilla, a reporter and anchor who might just have something of a conscience.

One other story of note on the day is James Turk's elegant arithmetic in making his case why gold should be $11,000 an ounce. (PS: at a 16:1 gold:silver ratio - the traditional ratio - that would make the current silver price of around $31 per ounce, seem even more ridiculous. Something along the lines of $687/ounce would be appropriate.

Dow 11,913.62, +104.83 (0.89%)
NASDAQ 2,699.44, +61.98 (2.35%)
S&P 500 1,254.19, +15.94 (1.29%)
NYSE Composite 7,547.63, +116.53 (1.57%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,988,391,000
NYSE Volume 4,291,371,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4660-1018
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 125-24
WTI crude oil: 91.27, +3.87
Gold: 1,652.30, +16.20
Silver: 31.64, +0.45

Friday, October 21, 2011

US Equities Rise 4th Straight Week on Euro-phoria, Earnings

Whatever happens in Europe over the next week or so apparently is going to be positive, if one reads the tea leaves of Wall Street correctly. Either that, or, a lot of people cashed in on some front-end options contracts, as today was October options expiration.

While a 200+ point gain on the Dow Jones Industrials is always a good way to end the week, in the current environment, there are still skeptics about, though caution has not been a solid strategy these past four weeks as the Dow put in its fourth consecutive weekly gain, amidst positive earnings news from a host of companies, including McDonald's (MCD), Honeywell (HON) and Verizon (VZ).

Thumbing their collective noses at naysayers and the protesters of the Occupy Wall Street movement, Wall Streeters pushed stocks to their highest levels since August 8th, and beyond the recent range that had kept the major indices bottled up for the past two-and-a-half months.

The Dow would have been down for the week without Friday's huge upswing, as Monday's 247-point decline took some getting past. For the week the Dow ended up 164 points, the S&P added 38, but the NASDAQ actually lost 30 points, mostly on the earnings miss by market leader Apple (AAPL).

Overall sentiment has turned bullish, though headwinds still prevail and caution is still advised by many. At least on this day, worries over the future of Greece, Italy and the Euro nations were out of focus and the market traded somewhat on fundamentals provided by strong earnings from a host of companies.

It was an odd day in that almost everything was up, including favored commodities, oil, gold and even silver.

Economic data continued to suggest sluggish growth as unemployment claims were down, though not by much, and leading indicators edged 0.2% higher. Existing home sales were disappointing, reported on Thursday at an annual rate of 4.91M for September. The US economy is still balanced on a precipice, buoyed on one side by smashing results from corporations, but weighed down by housing, employment and the European debt crisis.

For today, at least, the stock market shrugged off the negativity and moved ahead boldly. That will likely change in coming weeks as Europe continues to grapple with its over-leveraged conditions and US banks try to hide behind earnings manipulations. This is still not a bear market, though it could become one with more ease than most realize, though it is in everyone's best interests to keep the carousel turning.

Dow 11,808.79, +267.01 (2.31%)
NASDAQ 2,637.46, +38.84 (1.49%)
S&P 500 1,238.25, +22.86 (1.88%)
NYSE Composite 7,431.10, +157.20 (2.16%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,976,088,875
NYSE Volume 4,858,157,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 5308-1180
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 98-33
WTI crude oil: 87.40, +1.33
Gold: 1,636.10, +23.20
Silver: 31.19, +0.91

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Citi, Bank of America in Massive Fail Mode; Euro Leaders Diddle Over EFSF

The European mess got so badly confused it crashed this writer's browser and about half the post was washed into the ether. In any case, conflicting reports from the Eurozone make this weekend's EFSF-fest look something like this: Finance ministers of the various Euro nations will meet on Friday; German Chencellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy will meet on Saturday; the rest is somewhat hazy due to conflicting reports, but the whole she-band of the 2 trillion Euro bailout fund (which may include 5:1 leverage) should be wrapped up and delivered to the panting, waiting world on Sunday, or Wednesday, maybe.

That is the kind of music the Europeans are playing above the din of Wall Street's stressed markets, making them zig-zag with even more amplitude than under the normal rigging of the HFT computers. Stocks were down, then up, then sideways, then finally finished mostly flat.

What is on one hand frustrating and on the other wildly amusing is that all the nations of Europe don't have 2 trillion Euros to rub together, much less 10 trillion once the fund goes the leverage route. Get ready for massive currency devaluation and market disruptions as the Eurozone embarks on an experiment in quantitative easing (money printing) that makes Ben Bernanke's Federal Reserve look like amateurs.

While all the noise and fury from Europe was making trading something resembling a kindergarten face-painting class, a couple of items concerning a couple of US banks the media forgot to mention appeared on the web.

Apparently aiming for the honor of headline of the month, the New York Post reports, Citi fined $285M for selling dog$#!t paper.

It appears that the SEC stopped watching porn for a few minutes to slap a fine on Citigroup for selling mortgage-backed securities (MBS) to their clients they knew were dog$#!t and, a la Goldman Sachs, bet against them in the derivatives market. The fine amounts to a small fraction of the beating investors continue to take and a spec of dust compared to what Citi and the other TBTF banks did to the US and global financial and housing markets.

Good for those few non-porn-addicted officials at the SEC for finally waking up, albeit three years late, and doing somewhat of the right thing, though, as usual, Citi admits no wrongdoing and no executives have been fined, jailed or slaughtered for public delight... yet. That's why we have the Occupy Wall Street movement. They may not have defined demands, but, in general they hate the mega-banks and the people who run them.

Then there's Bank of America, which has been shuckin' and jivin' so much they seem to be shadowboxing with themselves in a mirror inside a kaleidoscope. Their recent maladies are summed up in an article by the erudite by barely comprehensible Chris Whalen of Risk Analytics, in an article entitled, Is Bank of America preparing for a Chapter 11? published by Reuters UK, because apparently the average reader in America probably won't understand a word of it, though we are pleased to give everyone a try.

Basically, BofA is getting rough press over their recent decision to charge debit card users a fee for the service and now, they're making it harder to avoid the $5/month fee.

Additionally, the $8.5 billion settlement the bank had worked out with various MBS trusts, including Pimco and the NY Fed, has unraveled and is being sent to a federal court. Boo-hoo.

And, completing the trifecta, Bank of America has moved Merrill Lynch derivatives into it's banking unit, putting over $1 trillion of deposits at imminent risk.


Dow 11,541.78, +37.16 (0.32%)
NASDAQ 2,598.62, -5.42 (0.21%)
S&P 500 1,215.39, +5.51 (0.46%)
NYSE Composite 7,273.90, +33.64 (0.46%)
NASDAQ Volume 2,095,450,875
NYSE Volume 4,870,291,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3404-2984
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 26-71 (finally, something that makes sense)
WTI crude oil: 85.30, -0.81
Gold: 1,612.90, -34.10
Silver: 30.28, -1.00

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

No Rest for the Wicked (or Corrupt, or Criminal); Beige Book Sinks Stocks

No news out of Europe to goose or grouse the markets? No problem, the Fed's October Beige Book provided yet another dim view of current financial, business and economic conditions across the United States.

As one might expect, the reporting in the 12 Federal Reserve districts was mixed, with business conditions showing slight improvement in most, but housing and employment remaining weak across most. Here is a good summary of each of the districts, from Dow Jones Newswires.

That was about all that mattered. CPI showed a jump of 0.3% in consumer prices, while the housing market showed a mixed picture. The Mortgage Bankers Association saw a 14.9% decline in mortgage applications in the most recent week (ended October 14) for new purchases and refinancing combined. Housing starts shot up to 658K in September after reporting only 572K in August, the figures based on an annualized model.

However, building permits dropped from 625K in August to 594K in September, suggesting a slight contraction in new home construction.

A huge drawdown in crude inventories last week of 4.729M barrels caused oil prices to dive, citing weaker than normal demand as the cause.

In a best-case scenario, most economists believe that the US will not suffer another recession, though growth remains flat to slightly improved. That is why the banking and debt crisis in Europe moves the markets. If Europe cannot solve its problems, there would be enough of a contagion to effect the US economy negatively.

The NASDAQ took the biggest hit on the day, following Apple's (AAPL) earnings miss, reported after the closing bell on Tuesday.

Dow 11,504.62, -72.43 (0.63%)
NASDAQ 2,604.04, -53.39 (2.01%)
S&P 500 1,209.88, -15.50 (1.26%)
NYSE Composite 7,240.26, -101.47 (1.38%)
NASDAQ Volume 2,013,483,875.00
NYSE Volume 4,869,994,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1752-4763
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 82-43
WTI crude oil: 86.11, -2.23
Gold: 1,647.00, -5.80
Silver: 31.28, -0.55

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Market Pops on Bogus ESFS Euro Report; Apple Misses, Tanks

You've got to love this market.

Any little statement or rumor that European Union leaders might throw significant money at their pan-continental debt crisis sends stocks soaring into the stratosphere, and today was one for the record books.

An unusually quiet day, stocks had regained a foothold after Monday's sudden reversal. But, shortly after 3:00 pm EDT, the UK's Guardian reported that France and Germany had agreed to boost the Euro bailout fund - the ESFS - to EURO 2 Trillion, a significant rise, and one that might just help kick the debt can down the road a few months, or even years.

Shortly after the story broke, however, Dow Jones reported that the 2 Trillion Euro figure was actually "still under debate," so, who really knows? At least the market machines and mechanics got what they wanted, a nice 100-point spike in the Dow in about ten minutes time and an S&P close over 1224. Mission accomplished. Now, move along, folks, nothing to see here.

In a day (week, month, year) full of bogus reports, before the open, Bank of America (BAC) reported 3Q earnings of 57 cents per share, but, because of the new math, which includes such exotic flavors as fair value adjustments on structured liabilities and trading Debit Valuation Adjustments (DVA), according to our friends at Zero Hedge, who usually have the best and most-believable dirt, BofA actually had earnings of 0.00, otherwise known as ZERO, Zilch, Nada, Nothing.

Of course, when CNBC and the rest of the supine financial media report, bare-faced, that the nation's largest bank by deposits more than doubled the analyst estimates (0.21) for the quarter, it was off to the races, with somebody shocking BAC shares up 10% by day's end, a stunning 0.61 gain, to the imposing figure of 6.62. While it's technically a 10% gain, it's still rather silly, considering the accounting nonsense being roundly applauded by the criminal bankster elite, and hardly any comfort to those who bought BAC when it was 7, or 8 or even 12. Make no mistake, we've entered the Twilight Zone of financial accounting and there's no turning back.

Along those lines, the Giant Squid otherwise known as Goldman Sachs (GS), also reported before the bell, but it's results were almost believable, showing a loss of 84 cents per share, with losses spread across the company's proprietary trading division, to the tune of $2.5 billion. Ouch. The market's response to the trending data of a company heading decidedly south: a gain of 5.25 (5%) to 102.25 and the financials led all other sectors in the faux rally du jour.

Also before the bell, PPI was reported to be up 0.8% in September on expectations of a rise of only 0.2%, which just happened to be how much the core PPI was up for the month. Somebody obviously missed the memo from the Fed that inflation was transitory, or something along those lines. Inflation in the US is running at an annual rate well over 6%, something the mainstream media hopes you don't notice.

One company which may be adversely affected by the loss of its CEO - the truly brilliant Steve Jobs - is Apple, which announced today after the bell that the company had an outstanding quarter as usual, but, uh, oh, they missed the estimates of 7.39 per share by a bit, reporting earnings for the quarter of 7.05 per share and also came up about a billion dollars short on the revenue end.

As of this writing, Apple shares were trading at 394.13, -28.11 (-6.66%). Not a very pretty picture there.

So, to recap, Goldman Sachs reports a massive loss, Bank of America releases what amounts to a fraudulent earnings report, inflation is about ready for lift-off into hyper-inflation and the market gets a jolly from a questionable report on the size of the European bailout fund. All good fun, no?

With Apple's miss in the after-hours and another couple of big banks - Morgan Stanley (MS) and PNC Financial Services (PNC) - due to report tomorrow, somebody might want to take a closer look at the number of companies that have missed or merely met estimates this earnings season, and maybe add in those who just plain fudged the numbers. But, not to worry, Cheesecake Factory (CAKE) and Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD) are also reporting tomorrow and should provide sufficient caloric excess to fuel another rally in the markets.

Wow! You cannot make this stuff up.

Dow 11,577.05, +180.05 (1.58%)
NASDAQ 2,657.43, +42.51 (1.63%)
S&P 500 1,225.38, +24.52 (2.04%)
NYSE Composite 7,341.73, +153.07 (2.13%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,988,896,750
NYSE Volume 5,669,232,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 5211
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 52-65 (Really? No kidding. extremely bearish)
WTI crude oil: 88.34, +1.96
Gold: 1,652.80, -23.80
Silver: 31.83, +0.01

Monday, October 17, 2011

G20, Merkel, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, NY ManuafacturingSink Stocks

Well, those last two weeks were certainly fun if you were long equities, so get ready for two weeks of pain, as that seems to be the general pattern of our over-hyped, over-controlled and manipulated crony capitalism markets.

Stocks have run up and down in a range on the S&P 500 from a low of 1099 to a high of 1224 since August 4th, after stocks took a tumble from their late-July highs. Volatility has been unusually high during the period, as uncertainty over US debt, European solvency and the continued threat of global recession weight on investors and speculators.

Starting on Saturday with the ludicrous demands of the G20 central bankers and finance ministers that Europe fix its debt problems by October 23, news flow has once again turned decidedly negative. Upon hearing the dictates from the G20 that leaders attending the European Union summit, "decisively address the current challenges through a comprehensive plan," Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, quickly tamped down expectations through spokesman Steffan Seibert, stating that "the dreams that are emerging again, that on Monday everything will be resolved and everything will be over will again not be fulfilled."

Those were the news items facing stocks in New York as the opening bell approached, but, prior to the regular casino-esque ring-a-ling at 9:30 am EDT, a couple of banks released third quarter earnings that sent futures lower. First up was Citigroup (C), which announced earnings of $1.23 per share on analyst expectations of 88 cents. At first glance, the quarter seemed positive, but accounting gimmicks provided most of the (mostly) phantom revenue.

The results included a pretax gain of $1.9 billion, or 39 cents per share after taxes, due to the bank's widening credit spreads during the quarter. When a bank's debt weakens relative to U.S. Treasuries, it can record an accounting gain because it could theoretically profit from buying back its own debt. Along with the idea that the bank was making money on its own worsening credit risk, Citi also lowered loan-loss reserves, further fluffing the quarterly profit picture.

Initially, investors bought into the grand scheme, sending the stock higher in early trading, but by the end of the day, the ruse had been found out and Citigroup stock sold off by 0.47, ending the session close to its lows, at 27.93.

Wells Fargo (WFC) came out with its earnings right after Citigroup, and though the numbers were more straightforward, the overall picture was dim. The bank said it earned 72 cents per share in the quarter, a penny below consensus estimates. Even though it was an improvement of 21%, revenue was down and the company lowered loan-loss reserved by $800 million, boosting the numbers. Traders sold off the company stock to the tune of a nearly 8.5% loss, ending the day down 2.25, at 24.42.

As if the bad reports from two of the nation's largest banks wasn't enough, New York state's empire manufacturing index continued to scrape along the bottom, posting -8.48 for October after a reading of -8.82 in September. Readings on national capacity utilization and industrial production returned basically flat.

Stocks sold off right at the open and continued a slow, painful decline throughout the remainder of the session. If the whole idea of the rally from the past two weeks was to sell off into options expiration on Friday, the downbeat news arrived right on time.

Even IBM, which reported after the close, could not garner any support. Big Blue was off almost 4% in after-hours trading, following their reported narrow beats on earnings and revenue.

Two more big banks report tomorrow and their 3rd quarters ought to be real doozies. Goldman sachs is expected to post a loss for the quarter, while Bank of America can float out whatever numbers it chooses. Nobody will believe any of them.

Dow 11,397.00 247.49 (2.13%)
NASDAQ 2,614.92 52.93 (1.98%)
S&P 500 1,200.86 23.72 (1.94%)
NYSE Compos 7,188.66 161.80 (2.20%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,711,161,000.00
NYSE Volume 4,203,815,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1322-5177
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 38-47
WTI crude oil: 86.32, -0.48
Gold: 1,676.60, -6.40
Silver: 31.82, -0.35

Payment Processing for Small Business

In order to keep one's business functioning smoothly, with so many different ways consumers spend and receive money, a variety of payment processing services and products are key to prospering in a rapidly-changing environment.

The primary ways people pay are cash and credit/debit cards, so a if a business has retail space it must also have robust POS systems capable of handing all manner of transactions smoothly and seamlessly, and, hopefully, all though one provider. Choice and flexibility are what consumers seek in their payment options.

That means merchants should rely on not many, but one single company to handle all credit/debit card transactions - online, by phone or in-house - with credit card processing services that won't confuse your customers or employees and can provide detailed, instantaneous processing and also offer the merchant an interface for reviewing and downloading transaction report data.

Along with credit-debit card POS systems and processing services, any business handling cash might want to investigate the availability of having ATM machines at retail locations, again providing the customer with choice, while at the same time helping to increase add-on sales. The ability to access additional cash while still inside the merchant location spurs impulse buying and helps bring in extra foot traffic with potential cash in hand.

Today's business challenges are various and complex, but there's no need for business owners or managers to make their lives more difficult by choosing more than one provider for payment services and products. While it's anathema to business to have only one main customer, when it comes to payment processes, having one source for everything from credit to cash to analytics is not only desirable, but ultimately, profitable.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Another Low Volume Upswing

Well, somebody's making money, but there aren't very many people trading. Volume today was among the lowest of the year, and it's supposed to be busy.

Call it what you like, but a 166-point move on the Dow on near-record-low volume, to most experts, is absolutely meaningless and not likely to retain value for long. This market is so full of hope, desperation and inside dealings one could easily assume the only traders left will soon be gnashing at each other's flesh over the few bones left to be picked over.

Of course, this continuing ramp-up on the major averages come just days before the major banks release third quarter earnings next week, among them Citi, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, PNC and Morgan Stanley. JP Morgan Chase already released their third quarter results and they were nothing if not laughable, so full of accounting gimmickry and false statements it's amazing anybody would hold even one share of this global disaster.

Sure, let's buy Apple at over $400 per share, or Google at $600. Most of us would rather stuff it in a mattress, which is the thought around the current war being waged on SAVERS, by SPECULATORS. There is no opportunity to actually earn interest in a savings plan, whether it be in treasuries, money markets, CDs or any other, so-called "safe" strategic asset. And the pundits, like the Reverend Jim Cramer, who say to buy high-yielding industrials, are whistling past the grave, because a stock like Coca-Cola (KO) sporting a 2.8% dividend and trading currently in the mid-to-high 60s, only has to lose two to three points in order to wipe out all of that dividend income. When the eventual market crash comes, the dividend checks cashed over the years will look truly pathetic to the lost value in the stock itself, and thus, your capital has been wasted, your savings destroyed.

Since the global banking cartel, in association with the spendthrift governments of the world, now control just about all major markets, including commodities such as oil, gold and silver, there is literally nowhere to invest safely except in unknown penny stocks or completely local. That's right, you're probably better off loaning the kid down the street $5000 to get his computer repair business off the ground than sinking your hard-earned-and-eventually-taxed-out-of-existence money into any Wall Street-related stock or scheme, and today's absurdly low volume on top of many previous ridiculously low volume days over the past year proves that people have not only lost money with Wall Street, but are rapidly losing their patience - see the Occupy Wall Street movement - and their interest in the future of big business in America.

As has been said before on this blog, the current economic climate is ripe for collapse, and the only investments should be in tools of trades and basic survival equipment. There's probably a good opportunity in firewood upcoming this winter, as the control fraud in heating oil and natural gas will bury even more families this winter under unbearable expense.

It is distressing, to say the least, to watch the European leaders lie about having a plan, making a plan, preparing a plan to save the continent when in reality all they can do is what the Federal Reserve is so expert at: printing more money and devaluing the currency.

And one final word, on this Herman Cain and his idiotic 9-9-9 plan which includes a 9% income tax, a 9% corporate tax and a 9% national sales tax. To put it into the words of somebody I know and love well, "this plan is another way for the rich to get richer and the poor poorer. Most of the people in the higher tax brackets love it because they're paying something North of 35% presently in income tax, and many of them have businesses paying a 35% corporate income tax. On the other end, the people who will be most damaged by this stupid gimmick of a plan will be the poor and middle class, who already pay no tax because they don't make enough money and would have to pay an additional 9% sales tax on top of the state sales tax they're already having ripped from their hands by incompetent state governments.

What is truly amazing about Herman Cain is that he is a front-runner for the Republicans on the basis of this plan. A Herman Cain presidency would plunge 2/3rds of the nation into abject poverty, and maybe that's part of the plan, to turn America into another stinking third world backwater. They're doing a pretty good job on it so far. Mr. Cain is about as fit to be president as Charlie Sheen. Actually, Charlie might not do such a bad job. At least his press conferences would be #winning events.

What a country, full of liars and thieves at the very pinnacle of business and politics.

Dow 11,644.49, +166.36 (1.45%)
NASDAQ 2,667.85, +47.61 (1.82%)
S&P 500 1,224.58, +20.92 (1.74%)
NYSE Composite 7,350.46, +121.38 (1.68%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,687,163,000
NYSE Volume 4,057,578,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 5103-1362
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 52-32
WTI crude oil: 86.80, +2.57 (Why?)
Gold: 1,683.00, +14.50
Silver: 32.17, +0.51

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Harrisburg, PA Bankrupt, Max Keiser, Angela Merkel, Nicolas Zarkozy, Switzerland WIR, Google Earnings

Stocks vacillated today somewhat like they're supposed to in normal times, though these are no normal times in which we are living. Tape-watching in the age of high frequency trading and intellectual dispiritedness has an intoxicating allure and can become addictive.

Sparing the details, stocks were lower in the morning and staged a half-hearted rally on low volume in the afternoon. Sound familiar? Yes, computers. Kind of just going with the flow, or lack thereof. These last two days of trading could also be interpreted as outward manifestations of the liquidity, solvency and currency confidence crises as various macro sectors of the global economy grind inexorably toward a perceived halt, the term "perceived" included to indicate that markets are not entirely frozen, that there is always some urchin of trade lurching about, no matter how unwieldy the underlying system.

A few news items:
From Wednesday: City of Harrisburg, PA, capitol of Pennsylvania, declares bankruptcy. This is a sad, though poignant story of our times. A city of 46,000 with about $500 million worth of bad debt, or, debt that won't be repaid. Will there be a follow-on effect? Actually, there has to be and the situation is fluid, with the state trying to tell the Harrisburg City Council that they cannot declare bankruptcy. But they did, anyway...

Google Earnings (after the bell, today) - nice, 26% profit increase and other nice metrics. They're rocking, but for search, Bing is better.

Also after the bell, Fitch puts Barclays Bank plc, BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse AG, Deutsche Bank AG, The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Morgan Stanley and Societe Generale on Rating Watch Negative. At the same time, Fitch has placed the short-term IDRs of four of the banks on Rating Watch Negative.

Dow 11,478.13, -40.72 (0.35%)
NASDAQ 2,620.24, +15.51 (0.60%)
S&P 500 1,203.66, -3.59 (0.30%)
NYSE Composite 7,229.08, -34.61 (0.48%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,683,142,125
NYSE Volume 4,397,526,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2755-3644
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 20-35 (reversal signal)
WTI crude oil: 84.23, -1.34
Gold: 1,668.50, -14.10
Silver: 31.67, -1.12

I love it when a plan comes together and the clip of the Kaiser Report below fits like a favorite pair of jeans. Plenty from which to watch, enjoy and learn.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Market Melt-up Continues for US Stocks

News from Europe that the Slovakian government would re-vote on extending additional bailout funds to banks via the ESFS was like a sugar-coated treat to the childish cretins of the Wall Street investment community.

Shortly after the close of markets in the US yesterday, the Slovakian parliament became the only one of 17 countries to turn down the additional relief package proposal, sending shock waves throughout the EU and the rest of the financial universe. The package needed the approval of all members. Within minutes, however, there was talk of a deal on a re-vote, paving the way for a steady flow of funds to repair badly-damaged and close to insolvent European banks which have bourn the brunt of rolling bailouts to Greece, Ireland, Portugal and soon, Spain and Italy.

There was widespread optimism that the Slovak parliament would rework the proposal to fit their agenda and save Europe from imminent collapse. As has been the case for so long with all things Euro-related, the overseeing body of the European Union (EU) and the European Central Bank (ECB), a slight shift or change in the rules always seems to be the tonic whereby the Euro remains a "viable" currency and staves off the collapse, first, of Greece, and eventually the entire structure upon which the Euro currency is based.

With such confidence that European leaders would tread along the same path upon which the US staved off financial armageddon in 2008 after the Lehman Bros. bankruptcy, stocks were sent higher throughout the session, assured that the classic Ponzi scheme of international finance has finally gone global.

Along that line of thinking, John Embry, Chief Investment Strategist of Sprott Asset Management, said, in an interview with King World News, that stocks could decline by 40% if the European crisis turns into a repeat of 2008, and added, "I think investors have to be aware of the degree of manipulation in all of the markets here and not make the mistake of being momentum players. They shouldn’t just try to go with what is working and jump on board because a lot of this is manufactured for the sake of appearances."

Exactly. Global leaders don't want to see another major disruption like that of 2008, because their main concern is holding onto the reins of power they have secured, even if it means lying about where money is coming from, going to, bank balance sheets, stress tests and just about everything else if it means they get to keep their high posts.

While banks and the people who run them are most responsible for economic calamities over the past few years, politicians share much of the blame, enabling the ill-conceived schemes of the financial class with endless bailouts, ruses and guarantees while much of the global economy is reduced to a pile of worthless, paper rubble.

There was some late-day selling - a chink in the globalist armor and yet another indication of manipulated markets as there was no move to quiet the rally - and stocks finished with only about half of the gains racked up over the session. For instance, the Dow Jones Industrials were up by 209 points at about 2:30 pm, but closed with a gain of just 102. It pays to be a tape watcher these days, as waves of both buying and selling can occur at any time on any given day, no matter the news.

Only on major company reported earnings after Alcoa kicked off 3Q earnings season with a substantial miss on income Tuesday. PepsiCo (PEP) reported before the open that it had earned 1.31 per share after some one-time items, beating the Street estimates by a penny. The gains were largely attributed to Pepsi's aggressive pricing policy in which the company boosted prices around the world on its popular soft drink and snack brands.

Therein lies the conceit and thinly-veiled deceit of Wall Street. PepsiCo saw margin compression in the quarter, as operating margin narrowed to 16.5 percent from 18 percent a year earlier. Earnings for the giant company - with revenue approaching $18 billion in the quarter - have been mostly flat for the past year. Price increases, workforce reductions, cost-cutting and balance sheet shenanigans are what drives this company these days. Growth is largely the result of internal manipulations, not market share increases. Over the past five years, growth has slowed to a mediocre 5.87% per year, though making even that low level over the past few years has been difficult.

Dow 11,518.85, +102.55 (0.90%)
NASDAQ 2,604.73, +21.70 (0.84%)
S&P 500 1,207.25, +11.71 (0.98%)
NYSE Composite 7,263.69, +102.43 (1.43%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,998,280,250
NYSE Volume 5,355,361,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 5250-1511
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 41-35 (a reversal, which should not last)
WTI crude oil: 85.57, -0.24
Gold: 1,682.60, +21.60
Silver: 32.79, +0.79

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dow Five Day Rally Ends; Alcoa Misses 3Q Earnings

From the first indication given by Alcoa (AA) after the bell on Tuesday, this earnings season may not be in investors' best interests.

The world's largest manufacturer of aluminum products reported earnings per share of 15 cents, on analyst expectations of 22 cents per share. Revenue was above estimates, at $6.42 billion on estimates of $6.22 billion, but higher costs and some sluggish sectors crimped income down to $172 million for the quarter.

Chairman and CEO Klaus Kleinfeld made a couple of interesting comments regarding the quarter's results on CNBC, shortly after the data release. Kleinfeld said that "fear is taking a toll," noting the overwhelming sentiment that investors were wary of the crisis in Europe and a potential global recession and noted that Alcoa was a "competent company in a very nervous world.

The stock was being hammered lower in after-hours trading, down

After Monday's huge upside rally, markets seemed hesitant on Tuesday, and stocks traded in choppy, range-bound fashion. The Dow moved less than 80 points from the lows to the highs on the day.

Another factor keeping trading to a minimum on light volume was the debate in Slovakia on the vote to approve an expanded Eurozone bailout fund. Shortly after markets closed in New York, Slovakian lawmakers on Tuesday rejected participating in an expanded euro rescue fund, significant because the measure needed unanimous approval from all 17 currency members.

With tiny Solvakia standing up against bank bailouts and more depreciation of the Euro against major currencies, the breakup of the Euro seems all but academic at this point. It's become clear over the past few months and years that only the Northern European countries are fiscally balanced and able to cope with market pressures, while those in the South - particularly Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal - do not share the same financial disciple as displayed by say, the Germans.

Without expanded emergency capabilities, European banks will face a liquidity and solvency crisis similar to what happened in the US in the aftermath of the Lehman Bros. collapse and the contagion from it will almost certainly spread globally, though to what degree is as yet unknown.

The Slovakian Parliament decision and Alcoa's big miss on earnings should make for interesting trading on Wednesday in all markets, from Asia to Europe to the US.

Dow 11,416.30, -16.88 (0.15%)
NASDAQ 2,583.03, +16.98 (0.66%)
S&P 500 1,195.54, +0.65 (0.05%)
NYSE Composite 7,161.26, -12.19 (0.17%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,684,082,875
NYSE Volume 4,318,042,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3717-2705
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 37-60
WTI crude oil: 85.81, +0.40
Gold: 1,661.00, -9.80
Silver: 32.00, +0.02

Friday, October 7, 2011

Wall Street is a Crooked, Rotten, Rigged Casino

Just to keep everybody on their toes, the criminals running the Wall Street Casino sold off stocks at the end of the day.

The only real news - if one can call data from the horribly inefficient BLS "real" - was the September non-farm payroll report, showing a gain of 103K for the month. August was revised upward, from zero to 57,000 new jobs. Yeah, sure.

There's so much noise in this market, let's just leave it there. Maybe it will die and rot away over the Columbus day weekend.

Have a nice weekend. Go, Cardinals!

Dow 11,103.12, -20.21 (0.18%)
NASDAQ 2,479.35, -27.47 (1.10%)
S&P 500 1,155.46, -9.51 (0.82%)
NYSE Composite 6,925.80, -71.84 (1.03%)
NASDAQ Volume 2,106,904,500
NYSE Volume 5,434,408,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1866-4649
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 19-89
WTI crude oil: 82.98, +0.39
Gold: 1638.60, -11.70
Silver: 31.10, -0.83

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Last Hour Rally Boost Stocks for Third Straight Session; Occupy Wall Street Legions Growing; Steve Jobs Dead at 56

OK, this is getting a bit ridiculous.

For the third day in a row, stocks staged a final hour ramp-up, this one good for only 100 points on the Dow, but that came after stocks had been given an initial lift-off around 10:00 am, resulting in a nearly 200-point rise on the Dow.

News from the Eurozone was once again scant, as EU ministers and leaders of the nations comprising the EU proved they will not take a back seat to the US President and congress when it comes to foot-dragging and kicking the proverbial economic can down the road.

There was some discussion of "re-capitalization" of the major banks, meaning nothing more than egregious money printing and bailouts for those with the most capital who have not yet learned how to manage it wisely.

Considering the penchant for late-day moves, perhaps the directors of the various exchanges might consider opening the market later in the day, say, 3:00 pm, locking out sellers as the computer algorithms simply ramp up the stocks they like. Being that "banker's hours" are legendarily short as it is, this would give said elite bankers more time to count their profits and have their nails manicured.

It's worth pointing out that the past three day's worth of last hour rallies began off fresh lows, set in place on Tuesday's ripped decline. On that day, the Dow bottomed at 10362.26, a low point not seen since September 9, 2010. The S&P and NASDAQ made similar moves, setting new, 12-month lows before the "Merkel miracle" when German Chancellor Angela Merkel first uttered the word, "re-capitalize." The S&P had already entered official bear market territory, obviously something the power-mad bankers simply could not tolerate.

The legacy of the current short-run rally will depend greatly upon the figures released Friday morning when the BLS issues its monthly non-farm payroll data. Anything over 50,000 new jobs created is certain to be seen as a win for equity holders, though there are no hard and fast estimates that can be trusted after last month's zero reading.

While in the short term, propping up markets - as has been occurring since late 2008 - may seem a noble and prudent activity, the longer-term consequences of unbalancing markets are not well known, although the examples available (Weimar, Zimbabwe, Dutch Tulip Bubble) all seem to have ended very, very badly.

On that note, here's a couple of Wall Street Whiz Guys who think the "new" level to watch is 1070 on the S&P. Listen carefully and you'll hear them advise to buy low and sell lower. Obviously, these guys are fresh escapees from the zoo for unfit hedge fund manglers.

Legendary gold bull, Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital, doesn't think we're headed for a double-dip recession, he believes we're headed straight into "a complete economic collapse." Schiff's entertaining and caustic video can be seen here.

Not to put too fine a point on the doom and gloom aspect, Aftershock author, Robert Wiedemer, opines that we'll see "another meltdown within 2 to 4 years."

Well, Bob, thanks for the warning, though two to four years seems a long time to be waiting for the Apocalypse.

Meanwhile, outside the granite, steel and glass elitist enclaves of the big Wall Street firms, the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement continues to aggravate the paymasters and grow in depth and volume, spreading to over 500 cities and even getting the attention of President Obama during a news conference on Thursday. The corner of Broadway and Wall Street is beginning to resemble Cairo's Tahir Square in many ways.

Dow 11,123.33, +183.38 (1.68%)
NASDAQ 2,506.82, +46.31 (1.88%)
S&P 500 1,164.97, +20.94 (1.83%)
NYSE Composite 6,997.64, +153.48 (2.24%)
NASDAQ Volume 2,263,897,750
NYSE Volume 5,586,015,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 5253-1294
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 15-69
WTI crude oil: 82.59, +2.91 (WTF?)
Gold: 1,653.20, +11.60
Silver: 32.00, +1.65

Finally, it is with great regret to report that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs has died at the tender age of 56. In a tribute to Jobs' brilliance, we present the Super Bowl "1984" ad which aired on Super Bowl Sunday, January 22, 1984, during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII, heralding the launch of the Macintosh computer that revolutionized computing and our lives in general. Jobs was a thinker and inventor along the lines of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison, a man of such greatness that we will likely not see another like him for decades. It would be remiss not to point out that this blog, and many other online ventures, is run off a seven or eight year old e-Mac, purchased used for $50 more than three years ago and that the Mac PowerBook G3 that was purchased in 1998, is still running strong on system 8.9, and has been operational, without the need for upgrades or any repairs for thirteen years.

People who invent and produce products of such lasting and functional value don't come along too often. Jobs, and his unique understanding of technology and its interaction with people, will be sorely missed.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Quiet Day as Stocks Ramp Up Further in Advance on NFP Data

It was a very quiet, lackluster session for US stocks after yesterday's flash rally in the final hour had the desired effect of cooling off the shorts and the sellers, at least for a day. There was scarcely a peep coming out of Europe, the main culprit for increased volatility in US markets, and the upside play was enhanced when ADP released its September Employment Change report, showing job gains of 91,000 over the past month, though the number was 89,000 prior to that and the official US Labor Dept. non-farm payroll survey came up with a big, fat zero, so hope for significant job gains this month will depend on how drastically federal, state and local government jobs were slashed in September. The non-farm payroll report comes out before the markets open on Friday and estimates are in a range of gains of just 30,000 to 90,000.

Another boost to confidence was applied when the ISM Services Index fell less than expected, from 53.3 in August, to an even 53 in September. Of course even though the employment picture for private employers may be exhibiting signs of renewed hope that the US economy may avoid a recession by a hair, the report from Challenger, Gray and Christmas painted a different picture, with an increase of 211.5% in mass layoffs over last year. The planned job cuts of 115,000 were the highest reported since April 2009, at the depth of the latest recession and were 126% higher than those reported in August.

Regardless, stocks marched higher throughout the day, on strong volume. This two-day rally has to be put into perspective, however, as it began as a desperate bounce off new lows, was more than likely the work of a number of insiders and scared short sellers back into hiding, though a few more days of gains might just bring them out once again.

Everything seems to be heading for the non farm payroll report on Friday, but Thursday's weekly reading of initial unemployment claims, if they continue heading lower, as they did last week, should give stocks more lift.

The oddly-quiet nature of today's trade, when combined with the incidence of solid volume sets up an interesting trading regimen for the remainder of the week. Of course, that could all be scuttled by more negative news out of Europe, which has developed the nasty habit of showing up just in time to kill numerous rallies over the past two months.

With market reactions to every bit of news, trading stocks have become about as reliable as an old fashioned craps shoot on a Bowery back alley. Real money has retreated into cash, gold, treasuries or other hard assets, where merely holding onto what one's got has become the mantra of a new, risk-averse generation of money mavens.

This current rally is nothing but flux and fluff and, like so many before it, will probably end up in tatters before long. Deflation has reared its ugly head and won't back down until Bernanke gives in and goes for another round of quantitative easing, the worst of all possible solutions.

Dow 10,939.95, +131.24 (1.21%)
NASDAQ 2,460.51, +55.69 (2.32%)
S&P 500 1,144.04, +20.09 (1.79%)
NYSE Composite 6,843.41, +120.43 (1.79%)
NASDAQ Volume 2,457,121,250
NYSE Volume 5,855,495,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4664-1866
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 18-138
WTI crude oil: 79.68, +4.01
Gold: 1640.70, +16.50
Silver: 30.43, +0.20

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fantasy, Engineered Rally from PPT Saves Stocks from Bear Market Territory

To believe that a late-day rally, sending the Dow Jones Industrials from a loss of over 200 points to a gain of 150 points in the final hour of trading, is anything more than make-believe, engineered by the Fed, Treasury and other member's of the President's Working Group, aka, the Plunge Protection Team (PPT), would be sheer folly.

This latest move by the market manipulators is so blatantly contrived and designed to keep the American public believing all is well that is defies explanation. One of the headline stories on Yahoo News, Stocks Avoid Bear Market Territory Thanks to Late Day Rally cites "vague assurances from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke" as the cause for the rally, but never goes on to explain just what those "vague assurances" are. Surely the editors made up the line since the eminently-powerless Bernanke was testifying before the completely-clueless, corrupt and complicit congress today.

Sounds good, but we're not buying it.

The S&P was the real target. At 3:15 in the afternoon, the S&P was nestled comfortably in bear market territory, down roughly 20 points at 1080. By the end of the session, just 45 minutes later, the index was sitting at nearly 1024, a 45-point move in 45 minutes. At that rate - a point a minute - the S&P should be in record territory above 1550 by noon on Thursday, so hurry up and load up on those stocks, kids, the good times are here to stay!

This market is rubbish, as is the US government and our once-healthy, but now debt-ridden, jobless, service economy. Anybody invested in stocks with money that is for serious puposes should be seeking professional mental health advice. US stock markets have been called casinos, but that description gives casinos a bad name.

That's all this writer can stand for today. OK, a little more...

The number of new lows today is 100X larger than the number of new highs, and the market is going up? Please, this is only a golden opportunity to short this with everything one has, unless, as is usually the case, it gaps lower at the open tomorrow. 1962 new lows means that almost 1/3 of the entire US stock market made a new low today. Perhaps those "vague assurances" from Bernanke's lips were for unlimited funds for failed banks and just about any other company in these once-great, but now completely fictionalized United States.

Dow 10,808.71, +153.41 (1.44%)
NASDAQ 2,404.82, +68.99 (2.95%)
S&P 500 1,123.95, +24.72 (2.25%)
NYSE Composite 6,722.98, +148.69 (2.26%)
NASDAQ Volume 3,122,499,000
NYSE Volume 7,875,459,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4252-2410
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 18--1962 (full panic mode)
WTI crude oil: 75.67, -1.94
Gold: 1624.20, -36.70
Silver: 30.23, -0.26

Monday, October 3, 2011

Stocks in Panic Mode; Bankruptcy Lines Forming: High-Low Indicator at Extreme; Social Fabric Shredding

The Markets

Stocks began the fourth quarter the same way they ended the third, with waves of selling on fears of a Greek default and recession in the US and Europe.

After an initial lift from fair economic data, especially the ISM index posting a 51.6 number after a 50.6 reading in August and August construction spending showing a 1.4% gain, US stocks drifted lower throughout the day, with the final onslaught taking the S&P 500 to a close of 1099.21, the first time the widely-watched index closed below 1100 since September 8, 2010 (1098.87) and well below the recent low of 1120.76 (August 10). The S&P now stands (or slouches, as the case may be) less than nine points from official bear market territory, which would commence at 1090.89. The S&P is down 12.6% for the year.

The other major indices are also closing in on bear market territory. Another day like today would send the NASDAQ down more than 20% from its April 29 highs. The Dow Jones Industrials are faring best of the bad lot, though still just 375 points from marking a bear market.

Losses began overnight in Asian markets and cascaded through Europe and into the Americas. Most European bourses have been in bear markets for more than a few months.

News flows from Europe were not encouraging as the 17 countries which are backing Greek bailout funds met again on Monday but failed to come to an agreement on the second tranche of aid to the failing EU member.

That sent stocks into negative territory for the remainder of the session, closing at the lows of the day on very heavy volume in a broad decline. All 12 sectors were lower on the day, led by capital goods, financials and energy. WTI crude oil closed at its lowest price in over a year, fueling speculation that lower gas prices are on the way as weather cools and demand falls.

Dow 10,655.30, -258.08 (2.36%)
NASDAQ 2,335.83, -79.57 (3.29%)
S&P 500 1,099.23, -32.19 (2.85%)
NYSE Compos 6,571.45, -220.20 (3.24%)
NASDAQ Volume 2,523,549,250
NYSE Volume 6,714,723,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 772-5877
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 19-1405
WTI crude oil: 77.61, -1.59
Gold: 1654.40, +29.60
Silver: 30.33, +0.36

After the bankruptcy filing of Swedish automaker Saab last month signaled the coming onrush of large corporate bankruptcies, three companies have been making news on that front.

Eastman Kodak (EK), which has hired the law firm of Jones Day to explore "reorganization" possibilities, rallied back strongly after Friday's stock collapse. The company's shares are at a bargain-basement level of 1.34, a 77% gain on the day. Reports that creditors and investors are speaking to advisors have surfaced as the company continues to burn through $600-700 million annually off their broken business model, negatively impacted by the advent of digital photography.

Shares of American Airlines (AMR) were halted today amid rumors of bankruptcy filing. The oldest US legacy carrier lost 33% today, closing at 1.98.

The banking sector continues to be rocked by the continuing mortgage morass, new regulations and now, computer glitches. Bank of America's website and online banking functions were unavailable to millions of customers for a long time over the past few days, frustrating and infuriating its customer base just days after announcing that debit card users would face a five-dollar-per-month fee beginning in January for the privilege of spending their own money. Shares of the nation's largest bank closed down 59 cents, at 5.53, the lowest price since the depths of the financial crisis, when the stock closed at 3.12 on March 6, 2009.

Along with the S&P 500 breaking below 1100, the number of new lows today was a screaming signal to "get out of Dodge" as quickly as possible. Those 1405 new lows are at a level not seen since autumn of 2008, when the entire financial system was on its knees and needed a $700 billion "fiX" courtesy of a deal ripped from US taxpayers by then-Treasury Secretary (thief) Hank Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. No other indicator has been as reliable or accurate in picking crashes than the New high - New low indicator. According to the indication that has been flashing for weeks, a major down-leg is about to commence, especially with the NYSE, Dow, NASDAQ and S&P 500 all closing below support levels during the recent two-month slide.

This is a potentially world-shattering situation that has been developing for not just the past two months, but over the past three years. Stocks could free-fall as financial institutions in Europe, Asia and in the US face severe liquidity and solvency issues and sovereigns are unable to save them this time, concerned, rightfully so, with their own continued existence. The level of public distrust has risen to unprecedented levels. Over 700 people were arrested in New York, trapped on the Brooklyn Bridge (see video below) by New York City police funded by JP Morgan Chase.

This is only the tip of the news iceberg the mainstream media doesn't want the US public to see, hear or read. Peaceful protests in Boston, New York, St. Louis and Kansas City have taken on new life, resulted in mass arrests and are a threat to the ruling elite.

The entire human population of the planet is teetering on the brink of mass rioting and localized anarchy.

Learning More About Bankruptcy's Fresh Start

There are quite a few people in America that are on the brink of survival, some having lost their jobs, others, their homes, some, both. Many of these people can help themselves out with a little bit of knowledge about how the bankruptcy laws in their states - and throughout the United States - work, possibly saving themselves from the pitfalls of endless debt, homelessness or worse.

One way to get started learning more about bankruptcy and how it gives individuals and companies a fresh start, would be to sign up for a bankruptcy class online. Understanding the basic precepts and concepts of bankruptcy and how the process operates is essential to anyone facing serious economic issues.

An online bankruptcy course can give individuals fresh insight into what debts can be discharged through bankruptcy and why most of the time an individual or family can remain in one's home and also keep most personal assets. Most people never get close to bankruptcy or a US bankruptcy court to understand that a bankruptcy filing is an orderly, honorable process that allows people to retain some, if not most, of their valuable assets, along with their dignity and self-worth.

Another step toward resolving debt issues would be to enroll in a credit counseling course, either for oneself, or to offer services to people who are on the edge and can't pay bills. While bankruptcy filings generally require the expertise of an attorney well versed in the laws of that particular area of practice, credit counseling requires no degree and only rudimentary training. Anyone with a solid background in finance or math can easily learn the basics of credit counseling and immediately being helping out oneself or others with sound advice.