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Regulators shutter small Georgia bank,
making 12 bank failures in 2012
By Associated Press - WashingtonPost.com
WASHINGTON — Regulators have closed a small bank in Georgia, bringing to 12 the number of U.S. bank failures this year.
The pace of bank failures has slowed markedly, however. By this time last year, 23 had been shuttered.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on Friday closed Global Commerce Bank, in Doraville, with $143.7 million in assets and $116.8 million in deposits.
Metro City Bank, also of Doraville, agreed to assume all of Global Commerce Bank’s deposits and about $79 million of the failed bank’s assets.
Inflation amounts to "sticker shock" for everyday folks
The EPI Reflects Basic Economic Change
by AIER Staff - AIER.org
Technology and globalization have restrained prices on big-ticket items. But they caused fewer price breaks for frequently purchased goods. Toothpaste ain’t so high-tech.
AIER developed the Everyday Price Index (EPI) to address the widespread perception that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) does not reflect the day-to-day experience of Americans. As we continue to study and refine the EPI, we find that the divergence between inflation measured by the CPI and an index that measures direct experience is mostly a product of 21st-century changes in the economy.
Physical buying picks up
following Wednesday sell off in gold
LONDON (Commodity Online): Physical demand for gold has picked up following the sharp mid-week drop in prices, says Barclays Capital in a research note.
"Strong buying from Asia emerged and volume traded on the Shanghai Gold Exchange jumped to its highest since end January," Barclays added.
"February had been a weak month for physical demand across key regions and Turkey's import data for February confirmed the weak start to the year with gold imports down to 2.06 (metric) tons from 2.96 tons in January," Barclays continued.
Gold Far From Bubble Phase
Interview with Marc Faber - GoldSeek.com
The Gold Report: After Standard & Poor's (S&P) downgraded a cluster of Eurozone countries in January, you came out saying that downgrades should have been even deeper, depending on the country's credit-worthiness. S&P did give below-investment-grade ratings to Portugal and Cyprus—BB and BB+, respectively—but you indicated that some of these countries warrant CCC ratings. Do you anticipate additional downgrades?
Marc Faber: If you accounted for the unfunded liabilities of most European countries, as well as the U.S., the quality of the government debt would be significantly lower. In other words, yes, I do expect to see more and more downgrades over time.
TGR: Could that happen in 2012?
MF: Yes, and some thereafter.
Buy, Sell or Hold: Buy the Dips in Gold
BY JACK BARNES, Global Macro Trends Specialist, Money Morning
SPDR Gold Trust experienced a major pullback on Leap Day this week, dropping almost exactly 100 points on the day.
This happened while the European Central Bank offered its second tranche of three-year Long Term Recapitalization Operations.
The sell-off in gold on Wednesday is a related sign that liquidity is currently in demand.
But you only have to look at gold's big move up since the start of 2012 to know this stage of the move was unsustainable short-term.
Silver to outperform gold significantly in 2012
Interview with Sean Rakhimov - CommodityOnline.com
The Gold Report: You last talked with The Gold Reportin January 2011 and at that time you gave us your view on the prospects for silver for 2011. What's your analysis now as to what happened in 2011?
Sean Rakhimov: 2011 was a breakthrough year for silver. Last time we talked I think the title of the interview was "Silver Going Mainstream," which I believe it did last year. The silver price did run up to $50/ounce (oz). It settled back slightly under $30/oz, and sometime around the end of last year and the beginning of this year I believe we put in a major bottom in both gold and silver. The markets have been looking up since then.
Keiser Report 256: Market Manipulation
Max Keiser & Stacy Herbert discuss pirating Repo Man and jack-booted accountants here to help you. In the 2nd half of the show, Max talks to J.S. Kim of SmartKnowledgeU.com about silver, gold and market manipulation.
Coin-grading firm helped bring order to a free-for-all industry
Collectors Universe in Santa Ana evaluates and authenticates rare coins, sports cards and autographed memorabilia. Its stock price is up nearly 14% year to date.
By Matt Stevens, Los Angeles Times
Mike Faraone bent over his desk, peering at a 1929 $2.50 Indian-head gold piece glowing in the lamplight.
He tilted the coin, snapping it left and right, checking its luster. Then he drew out a five-power eyeglass and inspected the gold piece through the lens. He examined its strike — the raised areas left by the mint's stamp — and scanned for unwanted marks.
Then he set the eyepiece down and took one last long look at the Indian head coin, determining its "eye appeal."
The Greek Bailout, the CDS Market, and the End of the World
BY SHAH GILANI, Capital Waves Strategist, Money Morning
A not-so-funny thing happened on the way to the latest Greek bailout.
The terms and conditions of the bond swap Greece agreed to before getting another handout constitutes a theoretical default - but not a technical default.
That's not funny to CDS holders.
Greece hasn't defaulted (so far), but some of the buyers of credit default swaps, basically insurance policies that pay off if there is a default, claim the terms and conditions of the bond swap constitutes a "credit event" or default.
China reduces holdings of US govt bonds
By Wei Tian (China Daily)
BEIJING - China has made the first annual reduction in its holdings of US Treasury bonds in a decade. Experts are viewing the move as a sign that the country is accelerating the move away from dollar assets in search of more diversified investment channels.
According to the latest monthly figures from the US Treasury Department, China's holdings of US Treasury bonds dropped for a fifth consecutive month in Dec to $1.15 trillion.
The number was an update of a figure released in February, after the US department adjust edits method of collecting data on foreign holdings of US government bonds, a move aimed at obtaining more information about the use of proxies buying and holding US securities.
Trader says markets are manipulated and volumes fictitious
Principally related program trading is a way to 'game' the market to get it to go in your direction, and the fraud market has eclipsed the real trading.
SANDERS: Time to foreclose on the World Bank
ANALYSIS/OPINION: By Sol Sanders - The Washington Times
An adage holds that bureaucracies can pursue their original goals successfully only for a generation at most. After that, their efforts go to feathering their bureaucratic nests. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are examples: outrageous executive compensation and payoffs to congressional friends, all contributing to a housing bust now requiring ever more billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts.
Another example might well be the World Bank, which, along with the International Monetary Fund, is one of the two great post-World War II institutions for restructuring the world economy. John Maynard Milord Keynes, the author of the Bretton Woods accords setting them up, said the clerks got it wrong: The bank should have been called a fund and the fund should have been called a bank.
Shadow Banking System Pervasive -
Global Financial Suicide (Part 1).flv
If you've ever watched Max Keiser talk and thought he was a nut-job whose head pops off his body and "We're committing Global Financial Suicide!", if you've ever thought he was just stark raving mad, it would be to your benefit to watch this episode of Capital Account, featuring James Koutoulas, published here under Creative Commons Attribution License, as it serves as a good primer to help viewers understand the basis for Mr. Keiser's particular selection of words.
Shadow Banking System Pervasive -
Global Financial Suicide (Part 2).flv
Utsumi Says 'Quicksand' of BOJ Bond Purchases
Adds to Japan Fiscal Risks
By Masahiro Hidaka and Toru Fujioka - Bloomberg.com
The Bank of Japan is locked into purchasing more government bonds and may contribute to a loosening of fiscal discipline in the world’s largest public debt market, a former top Japanese currency official said.
"Since they have come this far, if the BOJ stops purchasing bonds, there will be a fall in bond prices and huge valuation losses" for banks, said Makoto Utsumi, former vice finance minister for international affairs and now president of Japan Credit Rating Agency Ltd. "They're damned if they do and they’re damned if they don't," he said in an interview in Tokyo on March 1.
Brazil Declares New Currency War on US and Europe;
Japan Losing Balance of Trade Battle
By Mike Shedlock - GlobalEconomicAnalysis.blogspot.com
In hope-against-hope scenario, countries with balance-of-trade surpluses struggle to maintain it. Put Japan, Germany, Brazil, and China in that group.
In that group, Japan is losing the Balance of Trade Battle.
Japan’s trade deficit widened to a record level in January, as falling exports combined with surging imports of energy.
Imports rose 9.8 per cent from a year earlier, while exports were down 9.3 per cent, resulting in a record monthly deficit of ¥1.48tn ($19bn).
Tim Geithner's Amnesia
By Mark Calabria - Townhall.com
In case you missed Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s revisionist fiction in today’s Wall Street Journal, he takes the critics of Dodd-Frank to task for forgetting about the financial crisis and how it came about. Sadly it is Geithner who forgets (or willfully ignores) the causes of the crisis. Just a few highlights:
Geithner reminds us of the AIG bailout. He forgets that it was the NY Fed’s approval of using credit default swaps to lower bank capital that lead to so much bank counter-party risk being concentrated in AIG (see Gillian Tett’s Fool’s Gold), as well as increasing bank leverage. But then who was heading the NY Fed at this time? Tim Geithner.
The Two Economic Clutch Type Events Of This Period
Jim Sinclair - SilverBearCafe.com
The history of this period will focus attention on two economic clutch type events. These events will have mandated the need for the construction of a new monetary system utilizing a virtual reserve currency traded only by central banks. This reserve currency will be related to gold via a global Western world M3.
An economic clutch type event is one that by its occurrence allows the world to shift gears and change into a new economic velocity and direction.
The first economic clutch event took place when the decision was made that the US Federal Reserve and US Treasury would not support a rescue of the prestigious investment firm of Lehman Brothers. By doing this, they threw that institution and all of its transactions in which it was the deficit other party into default via bankruptcy.
Gerald Celente -
The Wall Street Shuffle - 02 March 2012
BofA Clash With Fannie Intensifies
as Insurers Reject Loans
By Hugh Son - Bloomberg.com
Bank of America Corp. said it’s facing more demands by Fannie Mae for refunds on flawed home loans because mortgage insurers who cover defaults rejected 25 percent more claims last year.
Unresolved insurance rejections rose to 90,000 at the end of 2011 from 72,000 the year earlier, Bank of America said last week in its annual filing with regulators. Last year’s denials equal $1.2 billion in unpaid loan balances, according to a note yesterday by Compass Point Research and Trading LLC.
The Foreclosure-to-Rental Boondoggle
by MIKE WHITNEY - CounterPunch.org
"The national housing market took a hit in the latter half of 2011, falling to new lows not seen since the housing crisis began six years ago, according to data out Tuesday by S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices……The index is down 33.6 percent from its peak in mid-2006." – Washington Post
The reason that housing prices have dipped only 33.6 percent in the United States instead of 60 percent as they have in Ireland, is because the big banks have been keeping inventory off the market. If the millions of homes–that are presently headed for foreclosure–were suddenly dumped onto the market, prices would plunge and the biggest banks in the country would be declared insolvent. That’s why the banks have slowed the flow of foreclosures. According to Amherst Securities Group’s Laurie Goodman, "….2.8 million borrowers haven’t made a payment in over a year. Add that to the over 450,000 real estate owned (REO) units and you have approximately 3.2 million that are in the shadows. We are liquidating about 90,000 homes a month. That’s about 36 months of overhang; a really shocking number."
Wealth Gap Socially Destabilizing
Stiglitz: Income inequality bad for economy
By Andrew Tangel - NorthJersey.com
Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, offered a sobering outlook on Europe's debt crisis at Ramapo College, predicting the euro in its current form was unlikely to survive.
Stiglitz – a Columbia University professor whose résumé includes stints as the World Bank's chief economist and Clinton administration adviser – said Europe's austerity measures wouldn't end the crisis, only lead to greater civil unrest or debt-saddled countries like Greece leaving the continent's common currency.
High health-care costs: It’s all in the pricing
By Ezra Klein - WashingtonPost.com
There is a simple reason health care in the United States costs more than it does anywhere else: The prices are higher.
That may sound obvious. But it is, in fact, key to understanding one of the most pressing problems facing our economy. In 2009, Americans spent $7,960 per person on health care. Our neighbors in Canada spent $4,808. The Germans spent $4,218. The French, $3,978. If we had the per-person costs of any of those countries, America’s deficits would vanish. Workers would have much more money in their pockets. Our economy would grow more quickly, as our exports would be more competitive.
What’s ailing the Chevy Volt?
by Brad Plumer - WashingtonPost.com
On Friday, GM announced it was halting production of the Chevrolet Volt until April, so as to maintain "proper inventory levels." Sales of the electric vehicle have been disappointing, with the company missing its target of 10,000 Volts sold last year. Why hasn’t the car caught on?
GM executives have said the recent frenzy over a Volt battery fire in crash tests has hurt sales. On the merits, the fires weren’t a huge concern — the Volts only caught fire days or weeks after extreme lab testing, and according to a government investigationthey’re no more likely to catch fire than gas-powered automobiles. Still, panicky headlines ensued. Conservatives started denouncing the company (Rush Limbaughcalled GM "a corporation that’s trying to kill its customers"). And GM needed to retrofit new vehicles. Add that up, and GM sold only 603 Volts in January, down from 1,520 in December.
GM laying off 1300 due to low Volt sales
by Joel Gehrke - WashingtonExaminer.com
General Motors Co. announced the temporary suspension of Chevrolet Volt production and the layoffs of 1300 employees, as the company is cutting Volt manufacturing to meet lower-than-expected demand for the electric cars.
Gas Prices Doomed Carter—Will They Doom Obama?
Obama's the first Democrat to face down rising gas prices in an election year since Carter. But he has advantages his unfortunate predecessor didn't.
By Jordan Weissmann - TheAtlantic.com
Gas prices are up, and there's a Democrat in the Oval Office seeking reelection. What year is it?
For Politico, 2012 is 1980 all over again, and the newspaper is now pondering whether President Obama will end up "owning" high gas prices much the way Jimmy Carter did by the end of his term in the White House.
It's certainly possible that, as fuel costs inevitably rise in the coming months, enough cash-strapped voters will start casting blame on the president to cripple his reelection chances. You never know. But economically, comparing Carter's dire predicament, which he notoriously mishandled, with Obama's is silly, in part because you can't look at gas prices in a vacuum. The late 1970s were an economic nightmare in which fuel costs were one of several scourges. Today, we're looking at a strengthening recovery that's better equipped to withstand a bit of pain at the pump.
Can the shale gas boom save Ohio?
By Steven Mufson - WashingtonPost.com
The help-wanted sign is out in Canton, Ohio, for Chesapeake Energy.
The company that has led the charge in shale gas drilling is looking for truck drivers with licenses for hazardous materials, a purchasing coordinator for oil field equipment, a pipeline technician, a field safety coordinator, administrative assistants, troubleshooting electricians, a tax analyst and more.
Chesapeake is mobilizing for a massive drilling and development campaign in the state. The company has spent $2.2 billion and amassed about 800,000 acres of leases in the rich Utica shale that runs underneath eastern Ohio. It has eight rigs running and will have 20 poking holes in the ground around Election Day. It plans to install 200 miles of pipeline this year to bring its bounty to market.
Plateau Oil meets 125m Chinese cars
Oil spikes usually metastasize once energy costs reach 9pc of global GDP. The longer they stay there, the greater the damage.
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard - Telegraph.co.uk
That proved to be the pain barrier in the 1970s and again in 2008, and we are just shy of that level right now. "Oil is already capturing a higher level of European GDP than in 2008," said Francisco Blanch from Bank of America.
The rule of thumb is that a 10pc rise in crude cuts US growth by 0.2pc four quarters later, but the science is flabbily soft and nobody knows where the inflexion point lies. The effect is famously "non-linear". Nothing much seems to happen until confidence suddenly snaps.
Keiser Report: D.I.C.s and Hackers (E257)
In this episode, Max Keiser and co-host, Stacy Herbert, discuss the Stratfor bimbo, the bank that is in bed with it and Wikileaks as the modern day Gutenberg press. In the second half of the show, Max talks to Andy Bichlbaum of TheYesMen.org about Stratfor, culture jamming and targeting the system's bottom line.
Why Can’t Americans Have Democracy?
by PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS - CounterPunch.org
Syria has a secular government as did Iraq prior to the American invasion. Secular governments are important in Arab lands in which there is division between Sunni and Shi’ite. Secular governments keep the divided population from murdering one another.
When the American invasion, a war crime under the Nuremberg standard set by the US after WW II, overthrew the Saddam Hussein secular government, the Iraqi Sunnis and Shi’ites went to war against one another. The civil war between Iraqis saved the American invasion. Nevertheless, enough Sunnis found time to fight the American occupiers of Iraq that the US was never able to occupy Bagdad, much less Iraq, no matter how violent and indiscriminate the US was in the application of force.
Alex Jones: Blueprint to Defeat
The New World Order from Dallas, Texas
By Saman Mohammadi - Infowars.com
Alex Jones is a great soul.
"We are at the crossroads of human destiny. The universe lays before us. The eye has not seen, the ear has not heard, what God has got in store for us. The psychopath guild knows humanity is awakening and has used our energy and skills to construct a global chemical, biological, electronic, spiritual concentration camp. But our spiritual discernment and our ancestral genetics has sensed the threat, and for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. And you are that shield of humanity." – Alex Jones. Great words from a great man.
Alex Jones: Blueprint to Defeat
The New World Order from Dallas, Texas
Alex took to the road and visited a affiliate radio station in Dallas, Tx. He presented detailed talks and covered the history of the New World Order, its philosophy and mindset, what makes it tick and how we can decisively defeat its plan to establish a technocratic totalitarian world order and prison planet.
The New American era of socialism
By Armstrong Williams - The Washington Times
We have veered so far from the vision of our Founding Fathers that, unless the American people regain a strong commitment to the traditional American values of self-reliance, individual liberty and equality of opportunity, our democracy will inevitably lead to socialism.
In fact, it’s hard to argue that we aren’t already there.
We live in an age when some banks are too big to fail - when the tax-paying minority of Americans must carry the burden of failed investment firms that were run into the ground by our "best and brightest."
The Economic Crisis is a Sideshow to the Real Issue
By Monty Pelerins - EconomicNoise.com
The world is changing and few people understand the implications. Old rules and guidelines which worked for generations no longer apply. Profound changes, termed "discontinuities" by the late Peter Drucker, have obsoleted them. For those accustomed to linear change, there is a new normal. Mr. Drucker described a discontinuity as a change so profound that normal extrapolation of the past would produce misleading forecasts.
The most profound change the world faces is the future role of government in relationship to its citizens. Here are a few of the unsettled issues:
By Michelle Singletary - WashingtonPost.com
Several weeks ago, I bought some exercise videos online. Then I noticed that whenever I did an Internet search about anything, an ad for that same video package and other similar workout videos kept popping up. It was spooky.
The whole thing reminded me of two scenes from the Tom Cruise movie "Minority Report." In one, as Cruise is walking through a mall, various holographic ads pop up. There’s a commercial for Lexus, and, as Cruise strolls along, a voiceover says: "The road you’re on, John Anderton, is the one less traveled." Another says: "John Anderton! You could use a Guinness right about now." It’s creepy.
China announces double-digit hike in its defense budget
By Barbara Demick - LATimes.com
REPORTING FROM BEIJING -- China announced on Sunday an 11.2% increase in its defense budget for 2012, the latest in a string of double-digit hikes in recent years.
For the first time, China’s defense spending will top $100 billion and that figure is believed by international experts to omit such large-ticket items as its space program.
Although the increase is not as large as last year’s, it is enough to provoke anxiety at a time that the United States is shifting military resources to the Asia-Pacific.
The budget was unveiled, as in past years, on the eve of the opening session of the National People’s Congress, China’s equivalent of a legislature, which meets annually in March.
China Boosts Military Spending by Double Digits
Continuing Buildup, China Boosts Military Spending
More Than 11 Percent
By JANE PERLEZ - NYTimes.com
BEIJING — China announced a double-digit increase in military spending on Sunday, a rise that comes amid an intensifying strategic rivalry between the United States and China in Asia and concerns in Washington about the secrecy surrounding the Chinese defense budget.
The increase, reported to be 11.2 percent, is in step with the increased pace of military spending by China over the past decade, but the official statement did not give details of what weapons systems China is developing or offer a description of military strategy beyond protection of the country’s sovereignty. China analysts said the true figure was probably significantly higher and was underreported because much of the military’s decision-making is kept opaque.
North Korea’s Kim visits DMZ, orders high alert
By Hyung-jin Kim - Associated Press - WashingtonTimes.com
SEOUL (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong-unvisited the heavily armed border with rival South Korea and ordered troops to be on high alert, state media reported Sunday, just days after Washington and Pyongyang agreed to a nuclear deal after years of deadlock.
Mr. Kim’s visit to Panmunjom village in the Demilitarized Zone, his first reported trip there since the December death of his father, Kim Jong-il, comes amid escalating militaristic rhetoric aimed at U.S. ally South Korea.
Al Qaeda in Iraq mounts comeback
Claims a string of fatal bombings
By Rowan Scarborough - The Washington Times
Al Qaeda in Iraq, the Osama bin Laden-inspired terrorist group that sank the country into sectarian violence five years ago, is trying to make a comeback in post-U.S.-occupied Iraq, analysts and intelligence officials say.
Washington is closely watching whether AQI, as it is called, in the next year can reassemble networks smashed by the U.S. counterterrorism campaign. American commandos and intelligence officers killed AQI leader Abu Musab Zarqawi in 2006 and then scores of other chieftains until, by 2011, the group was decimated.
Israel offers humanitarian aid to Syria
By Abraham Rabinovich - WashingtonTimes.com
JERUSALEM — Israel’s foreign minister on Sunday offered to send humanitarian aid to Syria through the International Committee of the Red Cross.
"The Jewish state cannot sit idly by while horrific acts are taking place in a neighboring country and people are losing all that is dear to them," Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said.
* * * * *
Peres: U.S., Israel agree on stopping Iranian nukes
He denounces Iran as 'evil regime'
By Ben Birnbaum - The Washington Times
Israeli President Shimon Peres railed Sunday against the "evil, cruel, morally corrupt regime" in Iran and pledged that Israel and the United States will stop it from developing nuclear weapons.
"Iran is an evil, cruel, morally corrupt regime. It is based on destruction. It is an affront to human dignity," Mr. Peres said, speaking before the annual gathering of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
"Iran is the center, the sponsor, the financier of world terror. Iran is a danger to the entire world."
Obama: 'Too much loose talk of war' with Iran
By Sam Mamudi, MarketWatch
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) ) — President Barack Obama said Sunday that he has not ruled out any options in dealing with Iran, but warned that talk of war only helps Iran’s government.
Amid increasing discussion of a military attack on Iran, Obama said in a closely-watched speech that his policy is to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb.
"Iran’s leaders should know that I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," said Obama at the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Washington, D.C.’s most powerful pro-Israel lobby group. "And as I’ve made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests."
Barack Obama tells Israel conference:
'too much loose talk of war'
In address to Aipac, president says world has responsibility to discourage Tehran from pursuing nuclear weapon
By Chris McGreal in Washington - Gurardian.co.uk
Barack Obama has admonished Israel for "too much loose talk of war" with Iran and said the world has a responsibility to give sanctions an opportunity to discourage Tehran from pursuing a nuclear weapon.
Speaking before a meeting on Monday with the Israeli prime minister,Binyamin Netanyahu, Obama sought to head off pressure for him to commit to military action against Tehran if it crosses specified "red lines" in its nuclear programme.
Obama: I will not hesitate in using force
to block Iran’s nuclear threat from Iran
Barack Obama vowed he would "not hesitate to use force" to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon on Sunday, but chided Israel for its "loose talk" of impending war and demanded more time for a diplomatic solution.
By Jon Swaine, Washington,
and Phoebe Greenwood in Jerusalem - Telegraph.co.uk
Speaking before a critical White House showdown Monday with Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, Mr Obama tried to buy more time for "crippling sanctions" against Tehran to take effect before Israel decides to strike its nuclear facilities.
"Iran's leaders should know that I do not have a policy of containment," Mr Obama told a major pro-Israeli conference in Washington. "I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon".
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