“When you woke up this morning everything you had was gone. By half past ten your head was going ding-dong. Ringing like a bell from your head down to your toes, like a voice telling you there was something you should know.
“Last night you were flying but today you’re so low – ain’t it times like these that make you wonder if you’ll ever know the meaning of things as they appear to the others; wives, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers.
“Don’t you wish you didn’t function, wish you didn’t think beyond the next pay-check and the next little drink? Well you do so make up your mind to go on, ‘cos when you woke up this morning everything you had was gone.” – Alabama 3, theme tune to the Sopranos.
Gold bugs have been mocked relentlessly through mainstream media channels over recent years, particularly since the 2008 crash. The suggestion, that they’ve been stocking up on tins of: processed food, gold coins, guns and ammo, have bought shacks deep in the woods, whilst awaiting the end of the capitalist system underpinned by fiat currencies, has run and run over the past three years.
Naturally it’s been a narrative that’s encouraged humorous imagery; pulling gold teeth fillings in order to queue up to pay for groceries, or to cash in food stamps is the pre-cursor to events foretold in novels such as The Road. Surely the financial re-engineering of the Eurozone and the USA couldn’t cause such a dramatic shift in confidence and an implosion of society?
After all, the recent high street sales figures from the USA suggested a turning and ‘up tick’ in confidence didn’t they? Well the recent ‘Black Friday’ sales certainly went with ‘a bang’, requests for background checks to buy guns rose by 32% versus 2010.
Deputy Assistant FBI Director Jerry Pender said the checks, required by federal law, “surged to 129,166 during the day, far surpassing the previous high of 97,848 on Black Friday of 2008.” And in reality, the number is likely far greater;
The actual number of firearms sold last Friday is likely higher because multiple firearms can be included in a transaction by a single buyer. And the FBI does not track actual gun sales.
In the Tri-Cities, ‘sporting goods’ stores say they’ve seen an increase in sales in the last four years. Griggs in Pasco saw a 25% increase in sales from Black Friday last year. Wholesale Sports in Kennewick has an increase of 35 percent.
“Normally it’s electronics and people are out there looking for that screaming hot deal, and we were discussing that maybe women were out doing that shopping and their husbands were out buying their own Christmas gifts,” – Charlie Grigg, whose family owns the ACE Hardware Griggs store.
Grigg says more than half of the calls that come into the store are for the gun department. They even had to put in extra phone lines to do background checks. Managers from both Griggs and Wholesale Sport say the presidential elections have a big effect on sales. Sales went up four years ago when Obama was elected into office and they say with the new elections around the corner, many fear the President will work on changing gun control laws during his second term in office.
Europe Raids Its Citizens’ Pension Funds
Portugal has been added to the roll of dishonour amongst European countries who have systematically raided their citizens’ pension schemes in order to prop up their insolvent secular economic ills. The ‘technical speak’ is “a willingness by governments to use long-term assets to fill short-term deficits” others may term if theft. It’s subtle, it’s sophisticated, but theft of decades of pension contributions could be happening throughout Europe, particularly in countries that have recently had unelected technocrats installed in order to oversee the management of their countries. The UK’s Telegraph is reporting that “Portugal has raided €5.6bn (£4.8bn) of pension fund assets in a controversial scramble to meet its deficit targets.”
Ireland’s announcement last week that it would use the country’s €24bn National Pensions Reserve Fund “to support the exchequer’s funding programme” and Hungary’s bid to claw $15bn of “private pension funds back to the state system” is a deeply troubling policy. While it’s unclear precisely what the use of funds was for, speculation has raged that pension funds are being raided in order to boost sovereign debt bids. Europe’s pensioners in such countries may have already seen a 20% drop in the value of their retirement assets.
China Keeping Hands In Its Pockets
Once again China has re-affirmed that it will play no part in a Eurozone rescue. China can’t use its $3.2 trillion in foreign exchange reserves to “rescue” European nations and the country “has done its part” to help the region deal with its financial crisis, Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying said.
“Foreign reserves are not revenues,” Fu, whose portfolio is European affairs, said in a question and answer session following a speech in Beijing yesterday. “It’s not money that can be used by the premier or the finance minister.” Fu said China can’t use its reserves to fund poverty alleviation at home or to bail out foreign countries. The country learned from the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis that it needs to keep large reserves to maintain liquidity in order to honour obligations, she said.
The euro advanced for the first time in five weeks against the dollar as six central banks including the Federal Reserve acted to make more funds available to lenders to keep Europe’s debt crisis from deepening. Gains in the shared currency were tempered by concern a summit of European leaders next week won’t be able to stem the two-year-old crisis that began in Greece. South Africa’s rand was the best performer among the dollar’s 16 most-traded peers as stocks and commodities rebounded from two weeks of losses. The greenback and the yen were the biggest losers as demand for safety faded.
“The overall hope is that by Friday we’ll be able to get a lot more financial monetary stimulus and a comprehensive plan to save Europe,” Richard Franulovich, a senior currency strategist at Westpac Banking Corp. in New York, said yesterday. “You have a huge week next week.”
The euro rose 1.2 percent to $1.3391 on Friday, its first weekly gain since the five days ended Oct. 28. It advanced from a seven-week low of $1.3212 that was reached Nov. 25 as investors avoided risk. The 17-nation currency was strengthened 1.5 percent versus the yen to 104.43 in its first weekly advance since Nov. 4. The dollar gained for a second week against the yen, rising 0.3 percent to 77.90 yen.
The Swiss franc declined versus the euro as Switzerland said it may consider additional steps to support the central bank in its fight to curb the currency’s gains. The franc slipped 0.2 percent to 1.2342 per euro.
The cost for European banks to fund in dollars shrank from the most expensive since 2008 after the central banks said Nov. 30 they’d cut the rate on dollar liquidity swap lines.
The three-month cross-currency basis swap, the rate banks pay to convert euro payments into dollars, fell to as low as 1.19 percentage points below the euro interbank offered rate on Dec. 1. It touched 1.63 percentage points on Nov. 30.
The central banks, including the ECB and Bank of Japan, agreed to reduce their rate to the dollar overnight index swap rate plus 50 basis points, or half a percentage point, from 100 basis points, the Fed said in a statement.
Australia’s dollar climbed 5.2 percent last week to $1.0215 as the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index of stocks gained 7.4 percent and the S&P GSCI index of 24 raw materials rose 3.5 percent. Neither gauge had posted a weekly gain since Nov. 11.
The Dollar Index, which IntercontinentalExchange Inc. uses to track the greenback against the currencies of six major U.S. trading partners, weakened 1.2 percent to 78.683.
Japan’s currency fell versus most major peers as Finance Minister Jun Azumi said he’ll take action on speculative currency moves. Japan sold 9.09 trillion yen ($116.5 billion) in the currency market from Oct. 28 to Nov. 28, the Ministry of Finance said on its website, to stem yen appreciation.
The yen advanced 2.14 percent over the past month in the best performance against nine developed-market peers measured by Bloomberg Correlation-Weighted Currency Indexes. The dollar rose 2.05 percent, and the euro declined 0.88 percent.
Economic calendar releases that may affect sentiment in the morning session
Monday 5 December
09:00 Eurozone – PMI Services November
09:30 Eurozone – Sentix Investor Confidence December
09:30 UK – PMI Services November
10:00 Eurozone – Retail Sales October
PMI for Europe. Analysts polled by Bloomberg showed a median forecast of 47.8, unchanged from the previous figure. For the UK analysts polled by Bloomberg showed a median forecast of 50.5 for PMI, as compared with last month’s figure of 51.3. Based on a Bloomberg survey of economists, Retail Sales are expected to come in at 0.1% (MoM). This is in comparison to last month’s change, which was -0.6% (revised). The year on year figure predicted was -0.6% from a revised figure of -1.4% previously.