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Important US$/Gold Events, Basel Compliance, “Option” Mortgages to Explode, U.S. Treasury Stealing Premiums? Volcker Calls for Trading Restrictions

Possible important US$/Gold events in the near future:

 

The G20 meeting in the U.S. city of Pittsburgh on Sept. 24-25:

 

The equity market rally has gained steam over the last few weeks not because of the much discussed possible economic recovery but because of the falling US$. As the US$ sinks to new lows cash in short term instruments is forced to seek refuge. Gold and silver are obvious choices for shelter, but these markets are tiny compared to the amount of US$ looking for cover and so the entire equity market structure is enjoying the massive flow of funds.

In fact, the market capitalization of the entire precious metals mining group is only about $225 billion compared to over $3 trillion in U.S. money markets. Can you see why we have made precious metals and the mining companies a major focus of the Fortune’s Favor Family of Funds?

 

But I digress, an increase in foreclosures will force the Fed to continue the easy credit solution. Monetization of U.S. treasuries will continue, world demand for a new reserve currency will get even louder and as a result the US$ will continue to decline in value forcing cash into assets that will outstrip the ever increasing inflation. “Here endeth the lesson.” (Another movie quote! “Somebody stop me!” I did it again!?!? The Jaime Lee Curtis quote from Wednesday’s post was courtesy of the movie A Fish Called Wanda.)

 

“Option” mortgages to explode, officials warn – Reuters.com
Reuters.com reports the federal government and states are girding themselves for the next foreclosure crisis in the country’s housing downturn: payment option adjustable rate mortgages that are beginning to reset. “Payment option ARMs are about to explode,” Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said after a Thursday meeting with members of President Barack Obama’s administration to discuss ways to combat mortgage scams. “That’s the next round of potential foreclosures in our country,” he said… Because the new monthly payments can be five or 10 times what borrowers are accustomed to paying, they “threaten a much greater hit to the consumer than the subprimes,” Goddard said, referring to the mortgages often extended to less credit-worthy borrowers that fed the first wave of the financial crisis… The mortgages tend to be “jumbo,” or for significantly large amounts, Goddard said, making it even harder for borrowers to sidestep foreclosure. He said he expected to see an increase in scams as distressed homeowners become more desperate to refinance big debts.

Does the following story mean the U.S. Treasury is in effect stealing the premiums asset managers have paid for money market insurance? I would welcome any thoughts on this matter.

U.S. Treasury to keep $1.2 billion money fund premiums – Reuters.com
Reuters.com reports the U.S. federal government will keep about $1.2 billion in payments collected to backstop money market funds even after its insurance program ends on Friday, a U.S. Treasury official said. The money “will stay with the Treasury,” the official told Reuters on Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the decision has not been officially announced. The payments, from asset managers, were essentially insurance premiums used to fund guarantees the Treasury put in place a year ago to prop up the $3.5 trillion money market fund industry.

Is the development in the story below the coup de gras for Goldman Sachs? Last year the broker was forced to become a bank to gain access to Fed handouts. Now it seems there is an attack building on the very core of Goldman’s earning power.

Volcker calls for restricting banks’ risk, trading activityWSJ
WSJ reports former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker on Wednesday said banks should operate in a much less risky fashion, including not making trading bets with their own capital, comments that could provoke intensified debates over the future of financial regulation.

Mr. Volcker, who currently is chairman of the White House’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, suggested banks should be restricted to trading on their client’s behalf instead of making bets with their own money through internal units that often act like hedge funds. “Extensive participation in the impersonal, transaction-oriented capital market does not seem to me an intrinsic part of commercial banking,” he said in a speech to the Association for Corporate Growth in Los Angeles.

Will the discussion about a new reserve currency continue to pick up steam? If so, the recent slide in the US$ could become a little steeper and in turn the Gold rally above $1,000 a little more secure.

September 30th:

“Sept. 30th is the fiscal year end for the U.S. Treasury. It is also the date when ALL banks across the globe must become Basel II and Basel III compliant.” Bill H. GATA The rules state banks that are not compliant will be restricted from trading with compliant banks. Due to the massive “off balance sheet” derivative exposure that U.S. banks have Basel III compliance will be problematic. Will this development create renewed weakness in the US banking system? We will need to monitor credit spreads closely in the coming weeks for clues of any Basel impact.

 

Meanwhile, the next shoe to drop in the real estate train wreck appears to be gaining momentum with the “option” mortgages coming under fire. As equity investors, an increase in foreclosures should be viewed as positive. Yes, you read the last sentence correctly, allow me to explain.

About Bret Rosenthal

Interpreting the news that moves markets. Principal of RCM, LLC, and founding partner of the Fortune's Favor Family of Funds
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