“What have these madmen done to the world economy?!”
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If you're still wondering what the current credit-crunch catastrophe is all about, you need look no further than the offices occupied by credit managers and loan underwriters at banks and lending institutions around the world. Each time one of these poor, unfortunate souls picks up a loan file, bullets of sweat start to run down their foreheads as their minds are filled with ominous foreboding and their hearts are gripped by a deadly mixture of bone-chilling horror and stark, raving terror, wondering whether this particular loan will be the one that ends their career and the very handsome salaries and bonuses that they have become accustomed to receiving over the past several years during which defaults have been virtually nonexistent.
What are they afraid of?
According to a recent article by Jim Willie, there are a total of some 10.4 trillion dollars worth of dollar-denominated bonds of which at least 7 trillion dollars worth are prime AAA and of which about 1.4 trillion dollars worth are subprime BBB, with the remainder being Alt-A's which are somewhere in between. He further states that according to the various bond indices, the prime bonds have lost about 30% of their value, amounting to a loss of about 2.1 trillion dollars, which Wall Street refuses to even discuss, while the subprime bonds have lost about 80% of their value, amounting to a loss of about 1.1 trillion dollars.
And let's not forget the ALT-A's which are kicking in another cool trillion in losses and which the pirates of Wall Street are still dancing around much the same way that a bandito's victim would do a Mexican hat dance around a sombrero while bullets whistle and ricochet around his wildly moving feet.
HOLY FREAKING FINANCIAL
THAT'S A MIND-BLOWING 4.2 TRILLION DOLLARS OF LOSSES!!!
Yes, you read that correctly, that's trillion with a "T" and this combined total is close to one third of the entire freaking US Gross Domestic Product, which has just been flushed down the toilet in a matter of months!
These jaw-dropping losses on AAA, ALT-A and BBB paper are greater by a factor of 10 than the grossly understated loss figures that the three stooges of our financial system, meaning our corrupt government, Wall Street and corporate America, would have us believe! This unbelievable total of 4.2 trillion dollars of losses is spread around the globe, and due to our opaque and completely unregulated system of banking and finance, for which we can thank our farcical, fraudulent, feckless Fed, no one knows where the freak any of these losses are or who the walking-dead victims are!
This is like a financial nightmare adaptation of George Romero's horror classics "Night of the Living Dead" and "Dawn of the Dead." And this does not even take into account the multiplication of these losses due to leverage or the further downgrading of AAA paper due to the loss of AAA status by bond insurers which is the only thing that made many of these bonds AAA in the first place!
If you were a credit manager or a loan underwriter, would you approve a multi-million or multi-billion dollar loan to anyone for any reason unless you were absolutely 100% sure you would get repaid on time? Every time you pick up a file, it's like playing Russian roulette with your career for crying out loud! And you were wondering why we have a credit crunch? We wonder why any loans get approved AT ALL!
In fact, we're starting to feel some of that bone-chilling horror ourselves as we try to wrap our minds around the immensity of these problems. What have these madmen done to the world economy?!
If you're a credit manager or loan underwriter, you're not looking at a 70 or 80 percent recovery if one of these zombies is on your approval list. You're looking at a big goose egg, a big ZIPPO, and we don't mean the kind you use to light cigarettes! This is where a bevy of security guards show up in your office and ask you to empty out your desk after which they quietly escort you out the front door to your car and insist that you leave the premises immediately!
And Heaven forbid that anyone should so much as whisper anything about the potential losses from credit default swaps and interest rate swaps lest they die of a myocardial infarction from merely discussing such losses, much less trying to comprehend them, because the magnitude and consequences of such losses are completely unprecedented and beyond the ken of mortal men!
We are told that there are 450 trillion dollars of notional bond debt covered by interest rate swaps, which is about thirty times US GDP. This is madness. We are told in "studies" that the losses should be limited to about 6%, or "only" 27 trillion dollars. That alone is enough to send chills up and down your spine while your heart palpitates. But aren't these the same people that told us the real estate markets were experiencing a slight downturn and that it would be contained? And didn't they say the same thing about the credit crunch?
What if they're wrong again this time?!
What if it's 7%. That's "only" another 4.5 trillion dollars of losses! That's more than all the prime, Alt-A and subprime bond losses put together (at least so far)! What if it's 20%? That would be a 90 trillion dollar loss! That's 6 times GDP for Pete's sake!
And what about all the lunatics who bought credit default swaps without buying any of the underlying bond debt. Don't they know that in order to make a claim under a credit default swap you have to turn the security over to the insurer or you're dead in the water? And what happens when the amount of the swaps exceeds the debt that is supposed to be covered. Is everyone supposed to play musical chairs to see who is left standing without holding a bond to redeem? Has anyone had so much as a single thought going through their heads while all this was happening?
This credit default swap situation alone is pure unadulterated lunacy, but we have not even mentioned the interest rate swaps yet. There's another 600 trillion of notional principal wrapped up in these weapons of mass financial destruction. That's forty times GDP in notional principal. Who was asleep at the wheel while these puppies multiplied? For every trillion of notional principal, all those who are on the wrong end of these thermonuclear devices by only a 1% differential between fixed and variable rates get to eat 10 billion in losses. When we get double digit inflation due to rampaging risk reassessment from imploding bonds and credit default swaps while the Fed attempts in vain to raise rates to stop hyper-stagflation as it reaches full bloom in its reign of terror, what if the differential between fixed and variable returns for those on the wrong end of these reserve-vaporizers rockets to 10%. That is 100 billion per trillion of notional principal. Whew, we sure hope the big banks who own most of these reserve-destroying financial meat grinders don't have lopsided trading positions between fixed and variable rate swaps, but given what we've seen so far, we hold out little hope for a good conclusion.
Bank reserves are being eaten alive by loan defaults and asset write-downs faster than the Fed can replace them. That is because the fractional reserve system Ponzi scheme is now working in reverse and unraveling big-time. This is why Hanky Panky Paulson is running around trying to figure out how to stop the defaults that are bleeding the banks dry. The Fed and Wall Street made a big blunder and grossly underestimated the percentage of loan defaults from toxic waste and the impact that this would have in non-subprime sectors while they grossly overestimated the liquidity of this kind of maniac paper and falsely boosted its credit rating. And remember, the Fed cannot control the creation of credit by non-bank institutions which are also getting hammered. The bank's that dabbled in toxic waste must either borrow reserves from the Fed, or call in a total of demand loans equal to 7 or 8 times the amount of reserves that have been lost or they will become insolvent and have to be liquidated by the FDIC which in the end won't even be able to pay losses at pennies on the dollar as the entire financial system comes tumbling down unceremoniously. That is why the discount window is wide open. If banks are forced to call in loans, the party is over. The whole system will implode and deflate. The banks can't even roll over the paper they used to fund mortgage loans and the government has had to step in with the FHLB and Fannie and Freddie to replace the lost loan capital. The Fed is fighting so many battles on so many fronts that their heads must spinning like Linda Blair's character in "The Exorcist."
While all this is happening, the over six hundred billion in home equity loans that fueled consumer spending last year have been completely cut off. Two trillion dollars of home value has been lost on account of declining home values as the real estate market explodes and goes down in flames and who knows how much in stock losses has been suffered since the end of 2007. Does anyone have any money or equity left, we wonder? What will fuel consumer spending and stop the economy from going into a deep recession.
The ISM services sector reading has completely collapsed while consumer confidence reported for the RBC Cash Index has plummeted to the lowest levels since the index was created in 2002. What hope does our economy have when the 150 billion stimulus package is only one quarter of the home equity injections that will be lost for 2008 that helped keep us moving in 2007?
We sit here stunned and comatose as the circuits in our brains are fried by these financial lightning bolts. This whole situation is going to turn into a disaster of epic proportions from which we may not recover for many, many years, if ever. Move over Japan, we're going to show you a thing or two about how to implode an economy so that it doesn't recover for decades!
The big banks are going to have to completely empty the sovereign wealth funds just to stay afloat! After this utterly magnificent debacle is all over, visitors entering the United States will be given the following greeting by US customs officials: "Welcome to the United Banana Republics of America. Please watch your wallets as former central bankers are known to inhabit these territories.
Due to the high concentration of unemployed bankers, brokers, loan originators and real estate agents, the use of shark repellant is highly recommended. In the UBRA, only gold and silver coin is acceptable as payment for goods. If you brought paper money, that's fine, since you can always use it as fuel to keep warm. We hope you brought your own food because we don't have any. But if you want to drink some ethanol, we have plenty of that. It has quite a kick too! We use it stay inebriated so we don't have to deal with our problems, which are endless. Be advised that you enter this country at your own risk. That is because all weapons have been confiscated, so you're on your own. Have a nice trip!"
When the smart money finally gets a grip on all this madness, gold is not going through the ozone. Gold is not going into the stratosphere. Gold is not going to the moon. Gold is not going into the solar system. Gold is not even going intergalactic. Gold is going inter-dimensional as it passes through a wormhole and explodes past the Einstein-DeSitter radius at the outermost bounds of the visible universe!
Speaking of gold, it had a great week, especially on Friday, and finished up over $13 per ounce, while silver shot up $.38. The XAU and HUI gained back what the cartel pounded out of them earlier in the week. The USDX futures open interest dropped by a substantial 10,000 contracts, which means the phony dollar rally and dead cat bounce is over. Gold will move much higher next weak as the dollar drops into the tank once again. Precious metals stocks are raring to go.
We had to laugh at the dollar's rally against the euro as the ECB held while the Fed cut 1.25%. What a joke! No one believes Trichet's bull about staying vigilant about inflation, but come on.
****(and much more)****
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An international financial, economic, political and social commentary.
Published and Edited by: Bob Chapman
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