September 2008


Bailout...

Bailout...

US politicians have announced a $700bn deal to rescue America’s financial system and end the credit crunch.

The move, backed by both Republican and Democratic leaders, allows the Treasury to spend up to $700bn (£380bn) buying bad debts from ailing banks in the US.

President George W Bush urged lawmakers to support the bill, which needs approval by both houses of Congress.

Some Republicans have voiced objections to massive state intervention in the financial sector.

The deal was announced after days of high-level wrangling between Republicans and Democrats in Congress over the content of the bill.

Both parties had vigorous objections to a proposal submitted last week by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson that would have given him sweeping powers over how the money was spent.

To read the entire Emergency Economic Stabilisation Act draft, please click HERE

By Frank Tang
Reuters
Thursday, September 25, 2008

NEW YORK — The U.S Mint said Thursday it was temporarily suspending sales of American Buffalo 24-karat gold one-ounce bullion coins because strong demand depleted its inventory.

“Demand has exceeded supply for American Buffalo 24-karat gold one-ounce bullion coins, and our inventories have been depleted. We are, therefore, temporarily suspending sales of these coins,” the Mint said in a memorandum to authorized American Buffalo dealers.

The Mint also told dealers that it would work to build up its inventory to resume sales shortly.

In mid-August, a shortage of American Eagle one-ounce gold coins due to “unprecedented” demand had also forced the U.S. Mint to temporarily suspend sales of the popular coins.

The Mint said Thursday it would continue to supply the American Eagle 22-karat gold one-ounce and American Eagle silver bullion coins on an allocation basis to coin dealers.

In addition, the half-ounce, quarter-ounce, and 1-10th ounce American Eagle gold coins and American Eagle platinum were also available, the Mint said.

Coin dealers from the United States to Canada have recently reported a surge in buying of bullion coins and other gold products as troubles in the financial markets prompted people to seek a safe haven in precious metals.

On Thursday, the U.S. gold contract for December delivery ended down $13 or 1.5 percent at $882 an ounce on the COMEX division of the NYMEX, while spot gold traded at $873 an ounce.

Bullion hit an all-time high of $1,030.80 an ounce on March 17.

* * *

…and a snippet from BullionVault:

“…Longer-term, says Roland Duss – co-chief investment officer at Gonet & Cie, the Swiss private bank based in Geneva – the price of Gold Bullion could reach $2,000 or more per ounce over the next decade.

“We are still in a commodities bull market,” Duss told London’s CityWire news service on Wednesday.

“The growth in demand from emerging economies is such that it will exceed supply, so we are bound to have price hikes for another five to 10 years.”

Duss says 95% of additional demand for energy, metals and other raw materials is coming from emerging economies. Developed OECD countries simply don’t have an impact.

“On the supply side [in contrast] there is a lot of destruction. For metals, there are too many cost increases, which means that some mines are not going to be there.”

World gold mining output peaked in 2003. Ian Henderson, head of J.P.Morgan’s $5bn Natural Resources Fund, believes we need “a sustained price level of over $1,200 an ounce before we see any significant new mine build.”

The CEO of world No.4 gold miner Gold Fields, Nick Holland, says his company’s assets would require a market-price of $2,000 and above “if you tried to build these mines today” to justify the investment.

“Already at cost levels between $600-700 an ounce,” notes the latest Precious Metals Weekly from Wolfgang Wrzesniok-Rossbach at Heraeus – the German refining group – “many mines will find it difficult to continue production.

“This should put a check on fresh supply. At lower prices, the feasibility of processing ‘scrap gold’ [meaning old jewelry and electronic bonding wire] will also be severely tested – and at the same time it should significantly encourage jewelry demand.

“As such, in the next 15 months, we do not see the gold price falling for any extended period of time below these levels”

***

By Chris Powell
Journal Inquirer, Manchester, Connecticut
Thursday, September 25, 2008

Even leading Republicans in Congress, including presidential nominee John McCain, recoiled from Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson’s proposal to take absolute power over $700 billion to be borrowed by the federal government and used to purchase every sort of bad debt without ever having to answer for it — not to the courts, not to regulatory agencies, and only occasionally and incidentally to Congress itself.

The bad-debt bailout would be the biggest government patronage program in history and would amount to declaring martial law over the U.S. financial system and economy. Even if such martial law is necessary, its implementation should be put in democratic hands — a non-partisan agency with full transparency, statutory standards for its purchases, and close accountability to Congress.

All the same, even if it can work — that is, prop up insolvent financial institutions — the Treasury’s proposal is still a proclamation of the collapse of the whole U.S. financial system. Even if some financial institutions are saved, the collapse will manifest itself in other ways, probably ways more damaging to the public. For who cares if Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley endure if the issuance of $700 billion more in government bonds drives interest rates way up, diverts credit from the private economy, devalues the already sinking dollar, and sends commodity prices soaring again?

In that case the financial class will have won another battle in its long war against the producing class. It will be again as was said about the maneuvers of the Second Bank of the United States two centuries ago: “The bank was saved; only the people were ruined.”

Injecting throughout the world financial system their bogus and unregulated financial instruments, like collateralized debt obligations and credit-default swaps, the big New York financial houses have taken the world economy hostage. The president and Congress should strive to save the hostages, not the kidnappers.

But the president and Congress have participated eagerly with the kidnappers in the total corruption of the financial system.

They have staffed the regulatory agencies largely from Wall Street and then diminished financial regulation.

They have let the financial houses finance presidential and congressional campaigns.

They have watched haplessly as accounting firms and credit-rating agencies engaged in conflict of interest and failed to do their jobs over and over again even as corporate scandal followed corporate scandal.

They have waged mistaken imperial war not with taxes but with huge amounts borrowed from abroad, making the country hostage to foreign nations, including some with hostile interests.

They have approved the government’s falsification of inflation data and its surreptitious suppression of the price of gold so that interest rates could be set below the inflation rate, the government and everyone else could borrow more at lower interest, and the public would not become alarmed by monetary debasement.

Now the U.S. government is conjuring into existence via a few computer keystrokes fantastic, virtually inconceivable amounts of money. Unreal as these amounts are, they will be claims on the real goods and services of the country, and, if the rest of the world wants to keep playing along, which is doubtful, claims on the real goods and services of the rest of the world as well.

The purpose of all this will be to save the people who happen to be in charge of the payments system and to save the propertied class generally. But people without many assets, people who don’t earn enough to own housing, people who could gain from lower housing prices and lower prices of everything else, are not even in the government’s equation.

The country is simply busted. Its financial obligations are unpayable, its asset prices are illusions, and the great undertaking in Washington and New York is to preserve those illusions rather than face reality. If the price of preserving those illusions is $700 billion — and of course it is more likely to run into the trillions — could it really be more expensive to dispense with the illusions now? After all, instead of rescuing financial institutions that disregarded risk, the government just as easily could keep the country going by sending checks to everyone every month — as it already sends Social Security checks to retirees.

But as long as the government keeps paying ransom, the financial class will keep taking the country hostage.

***

LEGISLATIVE PROPOSAL FOR TREASURY AUTHORITY
TO PURCHASE MORTGAGE-RELATED ASSETS
***
Section 1. Short Title.

This Act may be cited as ____________________.

Sec. 2. Purchases of Mortgage-Related Assets.

(a) Authority to Purchase.–The Secretary is authorized to purchase, and to make and fund commitments to purchase, on such terms and conditions as determined by the Secretary, mortgage-related assets from any financial institution having its headquarters in the United States.

(b) Necessary Actions.–The Secretary is authorized to take such actions as the Secretary deems necessary to carry out the authorities in this Act, including, without limitation:

(1) appointing such employees as may be required to carry out the authorities in this Act and defining their duties;

(2) entering into contracts, including contracts for services authorized by section 3109 of title 5, United States Code, without regard to any other provision of law regarding public contracts;

(3) designating financial institutions as financial agents of the Government, and they shall perform all such reasonable duties related to this Act as financial agents of the Government as may be required of them;

(4) establishing vehicles that are authorized, subject to supervision by the Secretary, to purchase mortgage-related assets and issue obligations; and

(5) issuing such regulations and other guidance as may be necessary or appropriate to define terms or carry out the authorities of this Act.

Sec. 3. Considerations.

In exercising the authorities granted in this Act, the Secretary shall take into consideration means for–

(1) providing stability or preventing disruption to the financial markets or banking system; and

(2) protecting the taxpayer.

Sec. 4. Reports to Congress.

Within three months of the first exercise of the authority granted in section 2(a), and semiannually thereafter, the Secretary shall report to the Committees on the Budget, Financial Services, and Ways and Means of the House of Representatives and the Committees on the Budget, Finance, and Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs of the Senate with respect to the authorities exercised under this Act and the considerations required by section 3.

Sec. 5. Rights; Management; Sale of Mortgage-Related Assets.

(a) Exercise of Rights.–The Secretary may, at any time, exercise any rights received in connection with mortgage-related assets purchased under this Act.

(b) Management of Mortgage-Related Assets.–The Secretary shall have authority to manage mortgage-related assets purchased under this Act, including revenues and portfolio risks therefrom.

(c) Sale of Mortgage-Related Assets.–The Secretary may, at any time, upon terms and conditions and at prices determined by the Secretary, sell, or enter into securities loans, repurchase transactions or other financial transactions in regard to, any mortgage-related asset purchased under this Act.

(d) Application of Sunset to Mortgage-Related Assets.–The authority of the Secretary to hold any mortgage-related asset purchased under this Act before the termination date in section 9, or to purchase or fund the purchase of a mortgage-related asset under a commitment entered into before the termination date in section 9, is not subject to the provisions of section 9.

Sec. 6. Maximum Amount of Authorized Purchases.

The Secretary’s authority to purchase mortgage-related assets under this Act shall be limited to $700,000,000,000 outstanding at any one time (*)

Sec. 7. Funding.

For the purpose of the authorities granted in this Act, and for the costs of administering those authorities, the Secretary may use the proceeds of the sale of any securities issued under chapter 31 of title 31, United States Code, and the purposes for which securities may be issued under chapter 31 of title 31, United States Code, are extended to include actions authorized by this Act, including the payment of administrative expenses. Any funds expended for actions authorized by this Act, including the payment of administrative expenses, shall be deemed appropriated at the time of such expenditure.

Sec. 8. Review.

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Sec. 9. Termination of Authority.

The authorities under this Act, with the exception of authorities granted in sections 2(b)(5), 5 and 7, shall terminate two years from the date of enactment of this Act.

Sec. 10. Increase in Statutory Limit on the Public Debt.

Subsection (b) of section 3101 of title 31, United States Code, is amended by striking out the dollar limitation contained in such subsection and inserting in lieu thereof $11,315,000,000,000.

Sec. 11. Credit Reform.

The costs of purchases of mortgage-related assets made under section 2(a) of this Act shall be determined as provided under the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990, as applicable.

Sec. 12. Definitions.

For purposes of this section, the following definitions shall apply:

(1) Mortgage-Related Assets.–The term “mortgage-related assets” means residential or commercial mortgages and any securities, obligations, or other instruments that are based on or related to such mortgages, that in each case was originated or issued on or before September 17, 2008.

(2) Secretary.–The term “Secretary” means the Secretary of the Treasury.

(3) United States.–The term “United States” means the States, territories, and possessions of the United States and the District of Columbia.

***
(*) … please correct me if I’m wrong here, but is this a ‘carte blanche’ for the Secretary to keep on spending ad nauseam? i.e. the $700 billion is a rolling amount, and not a ceiling!

Some crystal-clear thoughts on the continuous global economic seismic shake-up from Ken Gerbino‘s latest missive: The World Gone Crazy and Your Gold Stocks

“…. The Inflation vs. Deflation debate is a debate between Knowledge and Stupidity. History and Fantasy. Understanding and Confusion. When a stock portfolio goes from $2 million to $1 million this is in fact a “deflated” value but this does not cause a deflation in the economy. Even with $10 trillion of stock market losses it has little effect on the general price level of goods and services in an economy. The crash of 1987 saw $15 trillion of stock and bond losses in the U.S. An historic loss of asset values at the time. Yet inflation in 1988 and 1989 averaged 3.2% and 4.3% respectively. There was no deflation. The same concept is true for real estate. Real Estate losses in 1990-91 were in the trillions and the inflation rates in 1990, 91, 92 averaged 4% annually. There was no deflation. There never is with paper money.”

“… There will be no deflation. If your adviser or broker or newsletter writer ever mentions this word send him this article and wise him/her up. Inflation is here to stay as prices have not gone down in this country in any year for the last 60 years despite the calls of the deflationists. During this time, despite market crashes, horrible recessions, and numerous real estate busts we have had no deflations. Paper money is inflationary and we are going to be flooded with more of it before the bailout of the global financial system is completed.”

“…The Great Lie: For almost 75 years the Fed and the Treasury have promoted the following concept. Inflation is caused by a strong economy. This, of course, is a smokescreen for the truth that all inflations are caused by an increase in money supply. But with this stable datum that a strong economy causes inflation, the powers that be always had something else to blame for inflation. Money managers therefore thinking that if a strong economy causes inflation then a slow economy or a recession will cause less inflation. Therefore they reason “why own gold or the gold stocks”. These were some of the guys selling the gold shares the last 3-4 months. They are so wrong.”

“…Current gold buyers are most likely split between investors that believe a horrible deflation is coming and money will be wiped out so gold should be a good substitute and other investors who correctly understand that trillions of new dollars and foreign currencies are going to flood world economies to bail out the institutions and this will be very inflationary.

Both sides will have great conviction and this $90 move underlines those thoughts. Therefore, with the financial turmoil of this week gold and the quality mining stocks should move much higher with or without the stock market.”

To read this sobering article in its entirety, please click HERE

MineWeb’s Dorothy Kosich writes about a new report from Citigroup analysts John H. Hill and Graham Wark, who last year wrote a report acknowledging that central banks were strategically intervening in the gold market to suppress gold’s price. You can find their report from last year here:

http://www.gata.org/files/CitigroupGoldReport092107.pdf

Now, Hill and Wark write, they’re surprised that gold isn’t already at $2,000 per ounce. Of course having already conceded central bank intervention, maybe they shouldn’t be so surprised. But maybe it would be impossibly impolitic for them to write openly about intervention again now, especially since, as Kitco’s Jon Nadler and Resource Investor’s Tim Wood might assure us, the precious metals markets are the only markets in which central banks have NOT been intervening lately.

But the new report from Hill and Wark may be most satisfying to our side for another acknowledgement. As reported by Kosich, Hill and Wark write:

“It is notable that hard-core goldbugs have been proven correct in the decade-long contention that an overwhelmingly vast and complex pool of nested financial derivatives would ultimately result in cascading defaults and ruin for major portions of the banking system.”

You can find the MineWeb account of the Citigroup report HERE

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