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Regulators Expand Already Massive Precious Metals Manipulation Probe To Other Markets

Regulators Expand Already Massive Precious Metals Manipulation Probe To Other Markets

Just two days after the DOJ took the unprecedented step of designating the JPMorgan precious metals trading desk as a “criminal enterprise” using unusually aggressive language which reminded legal experts of indictments utilizing the RICO Act, and which hopefully ended years of precious metal manipulation by the group formerly headed by Blythe Masters, CNBC now reports that the probe is set to spread significantly as Federal prosecutors and regulators “are expanding their already aggressive investigations of fraudulent precious metals trades at J.P. Morgan Chase to other U.S. markets and financial firms.”

The inquiry into market manipulation of all kinds comes amid a spike in criminal prosecutions and civil actions in the past year involving so-called “spoofing” in the precious metals markets, which we now find had been taking place with reckless abandon for years at JPMorgan and virtually all other major banks.

The prosecutors broadened their investigation thanks to information received from traders questioned for spoofing-related charges, and as in most RICO cases, the information obtained from those traders has led to criminal charges against other individuals.

In short: what we for many years said was blatant manipulation of precious metals was precisely that, and now the participants in said manipulating cabal are being treated as a mafia syndicate by the DOJ.

The widening inquiry is being led by the Justice Department and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission as they continue their pursuit of individuals and firms for manipulating U.S. markets.

The crackdown may result in one of the biggest conviction rings for the DOJ since the financial crisis, with CNBC adding that the scope of the investigations has grown to the point where the criminal fraud division of the Justice Department expects to add personnel to the existing team to assist with the investigations and prosecutions of cases.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Could GE’s Slow Collapse Ignite A Financial Crisis?

Could GE’s Slow Collapse Ignite A Financial Crisis?

Will GE be the proverbial “black swan?” – It had come to my attention that General Electric was locked out of the commercial paper market three weeks ago after Moody’s downgraded GE’s short term credit rating to a ratings level (P-2) that prevents prime money market funds from investing in commercial paper. Commercial paper (CP) is an important source of short term, low-cost, liquid funding for large companies. At one point, GE was one of the largest users of CP funding. As recently as Q2 this year, 14.3% of GE’s debt consisted of CP. Now GE will have to resort to using its bank revolving credit to fund its short term liquidity needs, which is considerably more expensive than using CP.

Moody’s rationale for the downgrade was that, “the adverse impact on GE’s cash flows from the deteriorating performance of the Power business will be considerable and could last some time.” Keep in mind that the ratings agencies, especially Moody’s, are typically reluctant to downgrade highly regarded companies and almost always understate or underestimate the severity of problems faced by a company whose fundamentals are rapidly deteriorating.

As an example, Moody’s had Enron rated as investment grade until just a few days before Enron filed bankruptcy. At the beginning of November 2001, Moody’s had Enron rated at Baa1. This is three notices above a non-investment grade rating (Ba1 for Moody’s and BB+ for S&P). Currently Moody’s and S&P have GE’s long term debt rated Baa1/BBB+. In the bond market, however, GE bonds are trading almost at junk bond yields.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

JPMorgan Chase Trader Pleads Guilty to Gold Manipulation, Turns State’s Evidence

JPMorgan Chase Trader Pleads Guilty to Gold Manipulation, Turns State’s Evidence

Gold and silver investors got a rare bit of good news on the enforcement front last week.

A trader from JPMorgan Chase pled guilty to rigging the precious metals futures markets.

John Edmonds admitted to cheating the bank’s clients and plenty of other people naive enough to expect fair treatment on the COMEX and other exchanges.

While this is by no means the first time a banker has been caught cheating, some aspects of this case are certainly worth noting.

Below is some detail on the who, what, when, why, and how of Mr. Edmonds’ activities at JPMorgan.

As part of his plea, Edmonds admitted that from approximately 2009 through 2015, he conspired with other precious metals traders at the Bank to manipulate the markets for gold, silver, platinum and palladium futures contracts traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange Inc. (NYMEX) and Commodity Exchange Inc. (COMEX), which are commodities exchanges operated by CME Group Inc.

Edmonds and his fellow precious metals traders at the Bank routinely placed orders for precious metals futures contracts with the intent to cancel those orders before execution (the Spoof Orders), he admitted.

This trading strategy was admittedly intended to inject materially false and misleading liquidity and price information into the precious metals futures contracts markets by placing the Spoof Orders in order to deceive other market participants about the existence of supply and demand. The Spoof Orders were designed to artificially move the price of precious metals futures contracts in a direction that was favorable to Edmonds and his co-conspirators at the Bank, to the detriment of other market participants.

In pleading guilty, Edmonds admitted that he learned this deceptive trading strategy from more senior traders at the Bank, and he personally deployed this strategy hundreds of times with the knowledge and consent of his immediate supervisors.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

More Evidence The Economy Is Deteriorating

More Evidence The Economy Is Deteriorating

“Financial-market and economic prospects remain far shy of the hype and headlines, amidst tanking consumer optimism and negative revisions to recent reporting.” – John Williams, Shadowstats.com

The economy may seem like it’s doing well if you are part of the upper 10% demographic. Though, in reality, for most of the upper 10%, doing “well” has been a function of having easy access to credit. NASA Federal Credit Union is offering 0% down, 0% mortgage insurance for mortgages up to $2.5 million.

Someone I know suggested the tax cut stimulus had run its course. But the narrative that the tax cuts would stimulate economic activity was pure propaganda. The tax cuts stimulated $1 trillion in expected share buybacks and put more money in the pockets of corporate insiders and billionaires. The average middle class household spent its tax cut money on more expensive gasoline and food. Since the tax cut took effect, auto sales and home sales have declined. Retail sales have been mixed. However, it’s difficult to distinguish between statistical manipulation and inflation. I would argue that, net of real inflation and Census Bureau statistical games, real retail sales have been declining.

As an example, last week Black Box Intelligence released July restaurant sales. While comparable store sales were up 0.54% over July 2017, comparable restaurant traffic was down 1.8%. On a rolling three months, comp sales are up 0.46% but comparable traffic is down nearly 2%. With traffic declining, especially a faster rate relative to the small increase in sales, it means the sales “growth” is entirely a function of price inflation. If Black Box Intelligence could control it’s data for price increases, it would show that there is no question that real sales are declining. I have been loathe to recommend shorting restaurant stocks because, for some reason, the hedge funds love them.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Yield Curve Is The Economy’s Canary In A Coal Mine

The Yield Curve Is The Economy’s Canary In A Coal Mine

The economy has hit a wall and is now sliding down it. I don’t care what bullish propaganda may or may not be bubbling up in the headlines from the financial media and Wall Street, the hard numbers I look at everyday show accelerating economic weakness. The fact that my view is contrary to mainstream consensus and political propaganda reinforces my conviction that my view about the economy is correct.

As an example of the ongoing underlying systemic decay and collapse conveyed by this week’s title, it was announced that General Electric would be removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average index and replaced by Walgreen’s. GE was an original member of the index starting in 1896 and was a continuous member since  1907.

GE is an original equipment manufacturer and industrial product innovator. It’s products are used in broad array of applications at all levels of the economy globally.  It is considered a “GDP company.” GE was iconic of American innovation and economic dominance. Walgreen’s is a consumer products reseller that sells pharmaceuticals and junk. Emblematic of the entire system, GE has suffocated itself with poor management which guided the company into a cess-pool of financial leverage and hidden derivatives.

As expressed in past issues (the Short Seller’s Journal), I don’t put a lot of stock in the regional Fed economic surveys, which are heavily shaded by “hope” and “expectation” metrics that are used to inflate the overall index level. These are so-called “soft” data reports. But now even the “outlook” and “expectations” measurements are falling quickly (see last week’s Philly Fed report). The Trump “hope premium” that inflated the stock market starting in November 2016 has left the building.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How High Is The Risk of a Currency Crisis?

How High Is The Risk of a Currency Crisis?

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“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated”, quipped Mark Twain in response to a newspaper report that said he was on his deathbed. The same could be said about many fiat currencies. Whether we are looking at the US dollar, the euro, the Japanese yen or the British Pound: In the wake of the financial and economic crisis of 2008/2009, quite a few commentators painted a rather bleak future for them: high inflation, even hyperinflation, some even forecast their collapse. That did not happen. Instead, fiat money seems to be still in great demand. In the United States of America, for instance, peoples’ fiat money balances relative to incomes are at a record high.

How come? Central banks’ market manipulations have succeeded in fending off credit defaults on a grand scale: Policymakers have cut interest rates dramatically and injected new cash into the banking system. In retrospect, it is clear why these operations have prevented the debt pyramid from crashing down: 2008/2009 was a “credit crisis.” Investors were afraid that states, banks, consumers, and companies might no longer be able to afford their debt service — meanwhile, investors did not fear that inflation could erode the purchasing power of their currencies as evidenced by dropping inflation expectations in the crisis period.

Central banks can no doubt cope with a credit default scenario: As the monopoly producer of money, central banks can provide financially ailing borrowers with any amount deemed necessary to keep them afloat. In fact, the mere assurance on the part of central banks to bail out the financial system if needed suffices to calm down financial markets and encourages banks to refinance maturing debt and even extend new credit. Cheap and easy central bank funding prompted lenders and borrowers to jump right back into the credit market. The debt binge could go on.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Whistleblower Exposes “Rampant Manipulation Of VIX”

We first exposed the “conspiracy fact” that VIX manipulation runs the entire market back in 2015 as the ubiquitous VIX-crushing algo-runs coincided with a non-stop shorting of VIX futures by a seemingly bottomless-pocketed player in the market… which happened to coincide with the arrival of Simon Potter as the head of The New York Fed’s trading desk…

Probably just a coincidence, right?

Then, in May of last year we academic confirmation of the rigged nature the US equity market’s volatility complex, when a scientific study found “systemic VIX auction settlement manipulation.”

Two University of Texas at Austin finance professors found “large transient deviations in VIX prices” around the morning auction,“consistent with market manipulation.”

​Griffin and Shams calculate that “the size of VIX futures with open interest at settlement is on average 5.7 times the size SPX options traded at settlement, and it is 7.3 times for VIX options that are in-the-money at settlement.”

So if you are a trader who owns a lot of the market in VIX futures, you could push around a large dollar value of futures by trading a small dollar value in options. This is particularly true because the S&P option volume is divided among many strikes, and the illiquid deep out-of-the-money S&P 500 options have a big influence on the VIX: You can move the price of those options a lot with relatively small trades, and those price changes have a disproportionate effect on the VIX.

While this was immediately played down by CBOE, and the subject quickly disappeared from the headlines – because VIX was dropping incessantly and stocks were going up, up, up – until VIX flash-crashed rather awkwardly into the morning auction settlement in mid-December, bring the chatter of manipulation back to life

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

EXCLUSIVE: Cramer admits the markets are manipulated

The markets are manipulated.  All markets are manipulated.  What’s the ‘take away’ ?  You have several choices:

  • A Get a job at one of the manipulators, break off and start your own manipulation firm
  • B Find out how they are doing it and do it yourself (if you have a really rich Uncle, otherwise this option won’t work for you)
  • C Find a crack in the market manipulation engine and exploit it
  • D Day Trading (but this is really, really, really tough and even if you can manage it, your years are limited.)

Ways to not win, or barely beat inflation:

  • X Buy and hold
  • Y Stock picking
  • Z Buy and hope

Both methods, statistically, will lead to ruin.  You would have been right buying and holding the Amazon’s (AMZN) and the Google’s (GOOG) but how about the Worldcom’s, the Enron’s, the Kodak’s.. The Refco’s.. (we did HODL to Refco and we got a check for .30 cents on the dollar via bankruptcy court).  Stock Picking and Market Timing (when will the market bottom or top) is also dangerous because even if you’re a well funded Genius, you can’t be right all the time. This blast from the past is inspired by a first screening of the original “Fight Club” with the family all together, the inspiration of the theme of this site.  We tried to cover this topic on a high level in our work Splitting Pennies – but although this video is still on youtube, the meme remains well hidden from the masses.  Even Zero Hedge, if you ask most people, think that we’re some political site.  Is it left?  Is it libertarian?  No man, it’s just free.  They don’t know what free is, being overwhelmed with thousands of ‘media missiles’ every day.  Democrats, Republicans, and all in between are brainwashed by their own propaganda, their own Dogmas. This interview is just fascinating.. in many ways, most notably how Cramer easily switches from the ‘hedgie predator’ to ‘party line’ as if he’s 2 different people.  Cramer is a smart guy, one wonders what a smart guy is doing as a TV personality, but then again, a TV icon recently became president.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Gold EFPs: Absolute Proof That Paper Gold Is A Fraud

Gold EFPs: Absolute Proof That Paper Gold Is A Fraud

IRD’s Note:  In the past year, there has been a noticeably substantial  increase in the use of the obscurely defined EFPs (Exchange for Physicals) and PNTs (Privately Negotiated Transactions) in the settlement of Comex gold and silver futures contracts.  In simple terms, the EFPs and PNTs enable the counterparties  a Comex futures contract or LBMA forward to settle the contract in an acceptable form other than the actual physical commodity as required by the contract specifications (e.g. one gold futures contract requires the delivery of a 100 oz. gold bar as qualified by the Comex).  As an example, the counterparty that is required to deliver gold under Comex contract terms can deliver a comparable dollar amount of GLD shares if the counterparty standing for delivery agrees to take delivery of the GLD shares.

The EFPs and PNTs plunge the Comex operations into even greater opacity – likely intentionally.  In all probability, the EFPs and PNTs are used to bridge the gap between the amount of gold (silver) that needs to be delivered and the amount of gold (silver) that is available to be delivered.  The settlement of the contract occurs outside of the Comex.  These contract settlement devices further enable the ability of the western Central Banks to execute the successful manipulation of the gold (silver) price.

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In recent months, the issuance of gold Exchange for Physical (EFP) contracts has surged. EFPs convert a physically deliverable Comex gold contract into an LBMA or LME contract supposedly deliverable at a later date ex London and/or Hong Kong. As an incentive for Comex contract holders to accept EFPs, a cash bonus reportedly is paid. EFPs in silver are also being issued in vast quantities, but we will focus on gold for brevity.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The War on Gold Intensifies: It Betrays The Elitists’ Panic And Coming Defeat – Part 1

The War on Gold Intensifies: It Betrays The Elitists’ Panic And Coming Defeat – Part 1

Dictatorship (noun):  Definition #3:   absolute power or authority (Websters);
Def. #2:   absolute, imperious or overbearing power or control (Random House);
Def. #3:   Absolute or despotic control or power (American Heritage);
Def. #3:  Absolute or supreme power or authority (Collins English Dictionary);
Def. #1:  A type of government where absolute sovereignty is allotted
to an individual or small clique (Wikipedia).

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained, you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War

In recent weeks, the War on Gold, which is a subset of the broader War on Human Freedom, has sharply intensified, with massive, multi-billion dollar naked short price raids now being launched on a weekly and even daily basis by the criminal, state-sponsored price manipulators. This escalation proves the supreme importance to the Deep State financial elite of the maintenance of their gold price dictatorship, which is a vital component of their long term, systemic campaign of financial plunder.

The elitists have no problems whatsoever with stratospheric stock and bond prices; 5,000 year low interest rates; $450 million Da Vinci’s; $250 million private homes; $50,000,000 annual salaries for circus masters, whose role in keeping the masses distracted and dumb is vital; $1.9 million Aston Martins; $100,000 Air Jordan sneakers, or any of the other prices that have now gone into outer space.

But there is one thing they will not accept: an honest, free market price for gold. Because while all debauchery under the sun is permitted and encouraged in the Castle of Fraud and Corruption they have constructed and in which they revel, one thing is strictly prohibited: the utterance of truth.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Get Ready To Party Like It’s 2008

Get Ready To Party Like It’s 2008

Apparently Treasury Secretary, ex-Goldman Sachs banker Steven Mnuchin, has threatened Congress with stock crash if Congress doesn’t pass a tax reform Bill.  His reason is that the stock market surge since the election was based on the hopes of a big tax cut.  This reminds me of 2008, when then-Treasury Secretary, ex-Goldman Sachs CEO, Henry Paulson, and Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke, paraded in front of Congress and threatened a complete systemic collapse if Congress didn’t authorize an $800 billion bailout of the biggest banks.

The U.S. financial system is experiencing an asset “bubble” that is unprecedented in history. This is a bubble that has been fueled by an unprecedented amount of Central Bank money printing and credit creation. As you are well aware, the Fed printed more than $4 trillion dollars of currency that was used to buy Treasury bonds and mortgage securities. But it has also enabled an unprecedented amount of credit creation. This credit availability has further fueled the rampant inflation in asset prices – specifically stocks, bonds and housing, the price of which now exceeds the levels seen in 2008 right before the great financial crisis.

However, you might not be aware that Central Banks outside of the U.S. continue printing money that is being used to buy stocks and risky bonds. The Bank of Japan now owns more than 75% of that nation’s stock ETFs. The Swiss National Bank holds over $80 billion worth of U.S. stocks, $17 billion of which were purchased in 2017. The European Central Bank, in addition to buying member country sovereign-issued debt is now buying corporate bonds, some of which are non-investment grade.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Will The Fed Really “Normalize” Its Balance Sheet?

Will The Fed Really “Normalize” Its Balance Sheet?

Here’s the problem with letting the Treasuries and mortgage just mature:   Treasuries never really “mature.” Rather, the maturities are “rolled forward” by refinancing the outstanding Treasuries due to mature.   The Government also issues even more Treasurys to fund its reckless spending habits.  Unless the Fed “reverse repos” the Treasurys right before they are refinanced by the Government, the money printed by the Fed to buy the Treasurys will remain in the banking system.  I’m surprised no one has mentioned this minor little detail.

The Fed has also kicked the can down the road on hiking interest rates in conjunction with shoving their phony 1.5% inflation number up our collective ass.  The Fed Funds rate has been below 1% since October 2008, or nine years.   Quarter point interest rate hikes aren’t really hikes. we’re at 1% from zero in just under two years. That’s not “hiking” rates.  Until they start doing the reverse-repos in $50-$100 billion chunks at least monthly, all this talk about “normalization” is nothing but the babble of children in the sandbox.  I think the talk/threat of it is being used to slow down the decline in the dollar.

To justify its monetary policy, Yellen stated today that she’s, “very pleased in progress made in the labor market.”  Again, how does one define progress?  Here’s one graphic which shows that the labor market has been and continues to be a complete abortion:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Another shoe drops in the FX fraud manipulation conspiracy

Another shoe drops in the FX fraud manipulation conspiracy

FX is quite literally, a rigged game.  Not like the stock market, well not exactly.  FX has been, a game of ‘how many numbers am I holding behind my back?’ and the guess is always wrong!  As we explain in Splitting Pennies Understanding Forex – FX is rigged.  But that doesn’t mean there isn’t opportunity!  One just needs to understand it.

From Law 360:

French bank BNP Paribas was fined $350 million by the New York State Department of
Financial Services
 for lax oversight in its foreign-exchange business that
allowed “nearly unfettered misconduct” by more than a dozen employees involved
in exchange rate manipulation, officials announced Wednesday.

From 2007 through 2013, a trader on the bank’s New York desk, identified in the
consent order as Jason Katz, ran a number of schemes with more than a dozen
BNPP traders and salespeople on key foreign exchange trading desks to
manipulate prices and spreads in several currencies, including the South
African rand, Hungarian forint and Turkish lira, officials said.

He called his group of traders a “cartel” and they communicated in a
chat room called “ZAR Domination,” a reference to the rand’s trading
symbol, according to the consent order. The group would push up the price of
the illiquid rand during New York business hours when the South African market
was closed, moving the currency in whichever way they chose, and thus
depressing competition, officials said.

Katz also enlisted colleagues at other banks to widen spreads for orders in
rands, increasing bank profits and limiting competition at the customer’
expense, the order says. Some of the traders engaged in illegal coordination
and shared confidential customer information, officials said. As part of a
cooperation agreement with prosecutors, Katz pled guilty in Manhattan federal court in
January to one count of conspiracy to restrain trade in violation of the
Sherman Act.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Deutsche Bank Confirms Silver Market Manipulation In Legal Settlement, Agrees To Expose Other Banks

Deutsche Bank Confirms Silver Market Manipulation In Legal Settlement, Agrees To Expose Other Banks

Back in July of 2014, we reported that in an attempt to obtain if not compensation, then at least confirmation of bank manipulation in the precious metals industry, a group of silver bullion banks including Deutsche Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia and HSBC (later UBS was also added to the defendants) were accused of manipulating prices in the multi-billion dollar market.

The lawsuit, which was originally filed in a New York district court by veteran litigator J. Scott Nicholson, a resident of Washington DC, alleged that the banks, which oversee the century-old silver fix manipulated the physical and COMEX futures market since January 2007. The lawsuit subsequently received class-action status. It was the first case to target the silver fix.

Many expected that this case would never go anywhere and that the defendant banks would stonewall indefinitely: after all their legal budgets were far greater than the plaintiffs.

Which is why we were surprised to read overnight that not only has this lawsuit against precious metals manipulation not been swept away, but that the lead defendant, troulbed German bank Deutsche Bank agreed to settle the litigation over allegations it illegally conspired with Bank of Nova Scotia and HSBC Holdings Plc to fix silver prices at the expense of investors, Reuters reported citing a court filing by law firm Lowey.

Terms were not disclosed, but the accord will include a monetary payment by the German bank.

It goes without saying, that there would have been neither a settlement nor a payment if the banks had done nothing wrong.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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