Friday, May 24, 2013

Today's links

1--Shadow banking is back, CNBC

Securitization, or the channels through which banks repackage loans and farm them off to investors, has hit volume of $225.6 billion by way of 365 deals this year, according to Dealogic.
That's a 14 percent increase over 2012 but still miles away from the heady days of 2007, which saw a staggering $777 billion in volume at the same point—right before securitization, and the rest of the mortgage market, came crashing down

The shadow banking market is coming back relatively strongly and it will be a dominating force in the financial markets a couple years from now," said Dick Bove, vice president of equity research at Rafferty Capital Markets.
Bove said he expects the market to grow for collateralized debt obligations and collateralized loan obligations as well.
"The government is forcing it to rise again by making the situation for banks so onerous that they cannot do some of the transactions they used to do," he said. "That's forcing some of this money into the shadow banking market, where this is getting done."

2---Housing Won't Drive Recovery, CNBC

"You've got a lot of breathless commentary in the media," said Shiller, a Yale University economist. "All this talk that we're in this great recovery—we probably are in the short run, the longer run doesn't look so terrific to me." ...

"People are worried about housing as a risky asset," Blitzer said. "All the things that looked like they were going to snap back aren't snapping back, but some of them are."
One of the areas that took a recent downturn was housing starts, which plunged 16.5 percent to 853,000 in April.
Though permits surged to a nearly six-year high of 1.017 million, Case said starts is the more important metric.

Though he said "I believe there is a recovery," Case added that he is also dismayed at the lack of inventory on the market, in part because of a slower-than-expected foreclosure process.
"We thought the shadow inventory would be pouring on the matter as trends changed," he said. "That never happened."
What the economy is left with then, is a market that has, as Shiller said, merely returned to normalcy from extremely depressed levels.
Case said areas such as Los Angeles and San Francisco actually could be in bubble territory, but the rest of the market will see more incremental gains.
"There is momentum in the housing market," Shiller said. "Momentum suggests increases in the next six to 12 months." Longer term, he added, "I'm not so optimistic. It's not going to be another big up and down."

3---Don’t Get Too Excited About Record New-Home Prices, WSJ

4---Despite 'Promises', Japanese Market Chaos Continues, zero hedge

5---Nikkei Futures Resume Plunge, zero hedge

6---Jeff Gundlach: ‘We’re drowning in central banking’, marketwatch

Bond-market guru Jeffrey Gundlach says there’s a bubble developing, and it’s in the central banks. In an interview with Reuters TV, the DoubleLine CEO said that the quantitative easing policies adopted by the Federal Reserve, Bank of Japan, and other central banks may have negative repercussions. Here’s his take:
“We’re drowning in central banking right now and quantitative easing. That’s where the bubble is. It’s not going to end any time soon until there are some negative consequences … One of the problems we’re going to have in the global economy is currency devaluations. That’s the solution for an individual country for the issues they are facing.”
7---Obama offers tortured defense of targeted killings, wsws

Obama is well aware, however, that the assassination program is unconstitutional and illegal, and that, as president, he is guilty of multiple impeachable offenses. As if nervous that he would be held solely responsible for these actions, he repeatedly reminded his audience that Congressional leaders had been briefed about them on many occasions....

A grave danger to what remains of democracy in the United States, Obama is admitting, comes not from Al Qaeda or international terrorism, but from within the American state apparatus itself. The actions of the state, including those of the Obama administration in particular, have changed American society and called into question the viability of democratic forms of rule.

When speaking of Guantanamo Bay, Obama returned to the same theme. After repeating a call to close the facility, which included a proposal to establish a base to hold military commissions within the United States itself, Obama warned: “History will cast a harsh judgment on this aspect of our fight against terrorism and those of us who fail to end it. Imagine a future 10 years from now or 20 years from now when the United States of America is still holding people who have been charged with no crime on a piece of land that is not part of our country … Is this who we are?... Is that the America we want to leave our children?’

By its own actions, the answer that the Obama administration gives to these questions is: yes.
Obama’s speech expresses the deep crisis of the American state as it carries out a violent and definitive break with bourgeois democracy. At least within sections of the ruling class, there is a fear that the state as a whole risks losing any legitimacy in the eyes of the population of the United States and of the world. This fear is entirely justified.

8---The entire globe is a battlefield for Pentagon, Pepe Escobar, RT

9---The Silent Death of the American Left, Jeffrey St Clair, counterpunch

The environment is unraveling, thread by thread, right before our eyes. Each day brings more dire news. Amphibians are in stark decline across North America. Storms of unimaginable ferocity are strafing the Great Plains week after week. The Arctic will soon be ice-free. The water table is plummeting in the world’s greatest aquifer. The air is carcinogenic in dozens of California cities. The spotted owl is still going extinct. Wolves are beginning gunned down by the hundreds across the Rocky Mountains. Hurricane season now lasts from June to December. And about all the environmental movement can offer in resistance are a few designer protests against a pipeline which is already a fait accompli.

Our politics has gone sociopathic and liberals in America have been pliant to every abuse, marinated in the toxic silt of Obama’s mordant rhetoric. They eagerly swallow every placebo policy Obama serves them, dutifully defending every incursion against fundamental rights. And each betrayal only serves to make his adoring retinue crave his smile; his occasional glance and nod all the more urgently. Still others on the dogmatic Left circle endlessly, like characters consigned to their eternal roles by Dante, in the ideological cul-de-sac of identity politics.

How much will we stomach before rising up? A fabricated war, a looted economy, a scalded atmosphere, a despoiled gulf, the loss of habeas corpus, the assassination of American citizens…
One looks in vain across this vast landscape of despair for even the dimmest flickers of real rebellion and popular mutiny, as if surveying a nation of somnambulists.

We remain strangely impassive in the face of our own extinction.

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