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A top financial advisor, worried that Obamacare, the NSA spying scandal and spiraling national debt is increasing the chances for a fiscal and social disaster, is recommending that Americans prepare a “bug-out bag” that includes food, a gun and ammo to help them stay alive.David John Marotta, a Wall Street expert and financial advisor andForbes contributor, said in a note to investors, “Firearms are the last item on the list, but they are on the list. There are some terrible people in this world. And you are safer when your trusted neighbors have firearms.”His memo is part of a series addressing the potential for a “financial apocalypse.” His view, however, is that the problems plaguing the country won't result in armageddon. “There is the possibility of a precipitous decline, although a long and drawn out malaise is much more likely,” said the Charlottesville, Va.-based president of Marotta Wealth Management.One more reason to subscribe to Global Intel Hub
The "swap" of $10 billion of asset purchases for a lower employment threshold and lower-rates-for-longer forward guidance knne-jerked stocks dramatically higher (for now). But while that was occurring, the Wall Street Journal's Hon Hilsenrath was busy preparing 712 words in a record-setting 3-minutes to explain how the Fed remains data-dependent... and will remain dovish for longer than previously thought.
Via WSJ,The Federal Reserve said it would reduce its signature bond-buying program to $75 billion per month, taking a step away from a policy meant to recharge economic growth, and said that it will continue in "further measured steps at future meetings" if the economy stays on course.After months of intense discussion at the Fed and in financial markets, the Fed's policy-making committee announced Wednesday it would trim its purchases of long-term Treasury bonds to $40 billion per month, a reduction of $5 billion, and cut its purchases of mortgage-backed securities to $35 billion per month, a reduction of $5 billion."In light of the cumulative progress toward maximum employment and the improvement in the outlook for labor market conditions, the Committee decided to modestly reduce the pace of its asset purchases,"the Fed said in its formal policy statement.The Fed also sought to enhance its commitment to keep short-term interest rates low for a long time after the bond-buying program ends.Fed officials inserted new language in the policy statement that stressed they will be in no rush to raise rates once unemployment reaches the 6.5% threshold the central bank has set out as the point at which they would start considering raising rates, as long as inflation remains in check.The Fed said that "it likely will be appropriate to maintain the current target range for the federal funds rate well past the time" that the jobless rate dips below the 6.5% threshold, "especially if projected inflation continues to run below the Committee's 2 percent longer-run goal."Short-term rates have been pinned near zero since late 2008. Most Fed officials expect to keep interest rates low well into the future. In their latest economic projections, also out Wednesday, 12 of 17 Fed officials said they expected the central bank's benchmark interest rate, which is called the fed funds rate, to be at or below 1% by the end of 2015. Ten of 17 officials expected the rate to be at or below 2% by the end of 2016.The Fed acknowledged concerns that inflation continues to run stubbornly below the central bank's 2% target, saying that it is "monitoring inflation developments carefully for evidence that inflation will move back toward its objective over the medium term." The Fed's preferred inflation gauge, the price index for personal consumption expenditures, increased just 0.7% in October from a year prior, according to a Commerce Department data release earlier this month.Officials by and large stuck with their economic forecasts for 2014, making only slight adjustments to projections of growth, unemployment and inflation that they made in September. In the statement, officials said that risks to the economy and jobs market have become "more nearly balanced."
The most authoritative source comparing wealth-concentration in the various countries is the successor to the reports that used to be done for the United Nations, now performed as the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook. The latest (2013) edition of it finds (p. 146) that in the U.S., 75.4% of all wealth is owned by the richest 10% of the people. The comparable figures for the other developed countries are: Australia 50.3%, Canada 57.4%, Denmark 72.2%, Finland 44.9%, France 51.8%, Germany 61.7%, Ireland 58.4%, Israel 68.9%, Italy 49.8%, Japan 49.1%, Netherlands 54.6%, New Zealand 57.6%, Norway 65.9%, Singapore 61.1%, Spain 54.0%, Sweden 71.1%, Switzerland 71.5%, and U.K. 53.3%. Those are the top 20 developed nations, and the U.S. has the most extreme wealth-concentration of them all. However, there are some other countries that have wealth-concentrations that are about as extreme as the U.S. For examples: Chile 72.5%, India 73.8%, Indonesia 75.0%, and South Africa 74.8%. The U.S. is in their league; not in the league of developed economies. In the U.S., the bottom 90% of the population own only 24.6% of all the privately held wealth, whereas in most of the developed world, the bottom 90% own around 40%; so, the degree of wealth-concentration in the U.S. is extraordinary (except for underdeveloped countries)....
The broadest mathematical measure of wealth-inequality is called “Gini,” and the higher it is, the more extreme the nation’s wealth-inequality is. The Gini for the U.S. is 85.1. Other extremely unequal countries are (pages 98-101 of this report) Chile 81.4, India 81.3, Indonesia 82.8, and South Africa 83.6. However, some nations are even more-extreme than the U.S.: Kazakhstan 86.7, Russia 93.1, and Ukraine 90.0. But Honduras and Guatemala are such rabid kleptocracies that their governments don’t even provide sufficiently reliable data for an estimate to be able to be made; and, so, some countries might be even higher than nations like Russia.
Get regulatory analysis and more at Global Intel Hub for only $10/monthDec 13 (Reuters) - German banking regulator Bafin has demanded documents from Deutsche Bank as part of a probe into suspected manipulation of benchmark gold and silver prices by banks, the Financial Times reported, citing sources.Bafin has interrogated the bank's staff during several on-site inspections over the past few months, the newspaper said on its website, citing people familiar with the matter.Currently, gold fixing happens twice a day by teleconference with five banks: Deutsche Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia-ScotiaMocatta, Barclays Bank Plc, HSBC Bank USA, NA and Société Générale. The fixings are used to determine prices globally. Full story
As the housing market improves, foreclosure activity has been steadily declining — with one exception: The number of multimillion-dollar homes going into foreclosure has spiked, new research finds.Foreclosure activity on homes worth $5 million surged 61% year over year through October, according to data released Wednesday by RealtyTrac, a real-estate data firm. In sharp contrast, overall foreclosures fell by 23% during the same period. While the number of these high-end foreclosures is relatively small — fewer than 200 homes, compared with 1.2 million properties overall — they may also represent a buying opportunity for high-net-worth home buyers, says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.
The cuts are expected to largely fall on its main commodity desks in London and New York.The move comes as the financial sector's role in commodity trading has been squeezed by lower margins, higher capital requirements, and growing political and regulatory scrutiny of the role of banks in the natural resources supply chain.
"This move responds to industry-wide regulatory change and will also reduce the complexity of our business... The decision to refocus our commodities business is based on our identification of more attractive ways to deploy our capital and balance sheet resources," said Colin Fan, co-head of Corporate Banking & Securities at Deutsche Bank, in a statement.
Deutsche Bank was among the first financial firms to try and challenge the long dominance of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley in commodities trading a decade ago, but suffered a series of ups and downs and personnel changes over the years, including the departure of global chief David Silbert a year ago.Silbert's departure was the first sign that the bank was withdrawing from the one-time billion-dollar business, which had included a substantial U.S. and European power and gas book, a major market-making operation in oil options, and base metals trading."Silbert built up Deutsche Bank's commodity group to make it a top five contender in the space of five years and then left rather than pull down the house he built," said George Stein, managing director of New York-based recruiting firm Commodity Talent LLC."The destruction of the commodities business at Deutsche Bank is one more sign that the large global banks no longer see commodities as viable," Stein added.
The bank announced the decision to staff at a meeting shortly after lunch on Thursday, with around half the 200 traders affectedclearing their desks and leaving immediately, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Not all banks are scaling back in the sector, however. London-headquartered Standard Chartered, which does a lot of its business in emerging markets, said this month it plans to double revenues from its commodities business in the next four years and plans to add 10-20 staff to its existing team of 100 in the next six months.Global commodity merchants such as Vitol, Glencore and Mercuria, which are not as affected by growing regulation, are also looking to step into the vacuum left by the big U.S. and European financial heavyweights. Asian-Pacific and South American banks, including Australia's Macquarie and Sao Paulo-based BTG Pactual, are also expanding their commodities businesses.
Well that escalated quickly. Having broken above $900 yesterday to new record highs (and a 100% gain in a week), the crypto currency is not looking back now. On what is higher than average volume this morning, Bitcoin just broke above the magic $1000 level for the first time (at $1025). Meanwhile, the BTC China "arb'd" rate is around $950 for those playing at home; and Litecoin has just topped $26 (from $4 a week ago!).
The People’s Bank of China said the country does not benefit any more from increases in its foreign-currency holdings, adding to signs policy makers will rein in dollar purchases that limit the yuan’s appreciation.“It’s no longer in China’s favor to accumulate foreign-exchange reserves,” Yi Gang, a deputy governor at the central bank, said in a speech organized by China Economists 50 Forum at Tsinghua University yesterday. The monetary authority will “basically” end normal intervention in the currency market and broaden the yuan’s daily trading range, Governor Zhou Xiaochuanwrote in an article in a guidebook explaining reforms outlined last week following a Communist Party meeting. Neither Yi nor Zhou gave a timeframe for any changes.