12 Ominous Signs For World Financial Markets

Can anyone explain the very strange behavior that we are seeing in world financial markets right now?  Corporate insiders are bailing out of the U.S. stock market at a very alarming rate.  Investors are moving mountains of money into gold and other commodities.  In fact, there is such a rush towards gold that shortages are starting to be reported in some areas.  Meanwhile, some very, very unusual option activity has started to show up.  In particular, someone is making some incredibly large bets that the S&P 500 is going to absolutely tank during the month of October.  Central banks around the world have caught a case of “loose money fever” and are apparently hoping that a new flood of paper money will shock the global economy back to life.  Meanwhile, the furor over the foreclosure procedure abuses of the major U.S mortgage companies threatens to bring even more turmoil to the U.S. housing industry.

There are some very ominous signs that something is just not right in world financial markets right now.  Some of the signs listed below may be related.  Others may not be.  That is for you to decide.

Often, just before something really bad happens, you can actually see the rats leaving a sinking ship if you know where to look.  The truth is that if things are going to go south it is the insiders who know before anyone else.

So are some of the signs below actually clues for what we should expect in the months ahead?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

You make your own call.

But it is becoming hard to deny that there are some serious danger signs out there at this point….    

#1 Corporate insiders are getting out of the U.S. stock market at an absolutely blinding pace.  It is being reported that the ratio of corporate insider selling to corporate insider buying last week was 1,411 to 1, and this week the ratio has soared even higher and is at 2,341 to 1.

#2 Many of the world’s wealthiest people are buying absolutely massive quantities of gold right now.

#3 It is being reported that J.P. Morgan is gobbling up the rights to as much physical gold as it possibly can.

#4 The United States Mint has announced that it has run out of 1-ounce, 24-karat American Buffalo gold bullion coins and that it will not be selling any more of them in 2010.

#5 It is becoming increasingly difficult to explain the unusually high option volume that we are witnessing right now.

#6 Some very large investors are making massive bets that the S&P 500 is going to take a serious tumble during the month of October.

#7 On Tuesday, the Bank of Japan shocked world financial markets by cutting interest rates even closer to zero and by setting up a 5 trillion yen quantitative easing fund.

#8 The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago are both publicly urging the Fed to do much more to stimulate the U.S. economy, including beginning a new round of quantitative easing, even if it means a significant rise in the U.S. inflation rate.

#9 Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz told reporters on Tuesday that the loose monetary policies of the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank are throwing the world into “chaos”.

#10 At the end of September, federal regulators announced a $30 billion bailout of the U.S. wholesale credit union system.

#11 Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and GMAC Mortgage have all suspended foreclosures in many U.S. states due to serious concerns about foreclosure procedures.  Now, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is actually demanding that all mortgage servicing companies in the state of Texas immediately suspend all foreclosures, the selling of foreclosed properties and the eviction of people living in foreclosed properties until they have completed a review of their foreclosure procedures.

#12 Not only that, but Nancy Pelosi and 30 other members of Congress are requesting a federal investigation of the foreclosure practices of U.S. mortgage lenders.  Needless to say, this controversy has the potential to turn the entire U.S. mortgage industry into an absolute quagmire.

So are dark days ahead for world financial markets?

Well, yeah, but it is incredibly hard to predict exactly when things are going to fall apart.

The truth is that there are going to be a whole lot more “crashes” and “collapses” in the years ahead.

The important thing, as discussed yesterday, is to keep your eye on the long-term trends.

The U.S. economy is undeniably in decline.  The only thing keeping the economy going at this point is a rapidly growing sea of red ink.  Debt is literally everywhere.  It is what our entire financial system is based on in 2010. 

In the months and years to come, the major players are going to try very hard to keep all the balls in the air and to continue the massive shell game that is going on, but in the end the whole thing is going to collapse like a house of cards.

Unfortunately, we have been destroying the U.S. economy for decades and there is simply not going to be a happy ending to this story.

The Death Cross: Another Sign That We Are On The Verge Of A Recession?

The Standard & Poor’s 500 50-day moving average stands poised to cross beneath the 200-day moving average.  To those in the financial industry, this is known as a “death cross”, and it is a very powerful indicator that we could be entering a bearish period.  So is this yet another sign that we are on the verge of a recession?  Well, anyone who has spent much time trying to interpret financial charts will tell you how inexact that science can be.  Financial markets can be wildly unpredictable, and there is always a tremendous amount of manipulation going on behind the scenes.  However, when you add this impending death cross with all of the other signs that we could be entering a recession, there certainly seems to be reason for alarm.  The truth is that financial markets across the globe are full of fear and panic right now.  In fact, as noted in another article, the dominant force in world financial markets in 2010 is fear.  When fear rules, markets become very volatile and they can fall very quickly.  Anyone who has spent much time trying to squeeze profits out of world financial markets knows that they tend to fall much faster than they ever rise.  So are we now approaching one of those times of panic when financial markets across the world fall at breathtaking speed?

Well, the truth is that nobody knows.  Anyone who says that they can predict these things with 100 percent certainty is either a liar or they are unbelievably rich.

But certainly the mood in the financial markets is grim.  If a death cross does happen on the S&P it is going to make things even more tense.

For those not familiar with investing terminology, Investopedia defines a “death cross” this way….

A crossover resulting from a security’s long-term moving average breaking above its short-term moving average or support level.

In this case, the death cross would be happening on the S&P 500, which is a weighted index of the prices of 500 large-cap common stocks actively traded in the United States.  The S&P 500 is one of the most commonly used benchmarks for the overall U.S. stock market.

So how soon could we see a death cross on the S&P 500?

Well, some analysts believe that it could happen almost at any time….

“Because the market has moved down so violently, it’s brought about the likelihood of the Death Cross occurring much more rapidly,” Abigail Doolittle, the founder of Peak Theories Research, was recently quoted by CNBC as saying.  “It now appears it could be only a day or two off if downward momentum continues.”

But hopefully most of you that are reading this are not even in the stock market at this point anyway.

The truth is that the “rally” that we have witnessed in the financial markets has been nothing more than a “sucker’s rally”.

The fundamentals of the marketplace have not changed.

The U.S. housing market continues to teeter on the brink of disaster.

The sovereign debt crisis is worse now than it ever has been.

In fact, just about every economic indicator you could name is pointing to difficult times ahead.

So there was really no fundamental reason why we should have even seen such a rally.

But even with the recent rally, the stock market still has not been producing good returns.

So often you hear people giving advice that goes something like this….

“If you are going to get into the stock market just keep your money in there and ride out the hard times because in the long run things always go up”.

But do they?

The truth is that some people have done well, but overall inflation-adjusted returns from stocks over the past ten years have been pretty close to zero.

So if the stock market is a game that you want to play, you had better really know what you are doing (or hire someone else who does), because it can be a very cruel game for amateurs.

What does seem certain is that with so much tension in world financial markets right now, we are likely to continue to see an extreme amount of volatility in the marketplace.  In such an environment, even the slightest piece of good news or bad news can set off incredibly wild swings.

It is a very exciting time for those of us who follow the financial news, but for those seeking to actually squeeze some  profits out of the marketplace, times such as these are not easy.

The Dominant Force In World Financial Markets In 2010 Is Fear

Extreme volatility is not a sign of health for financial markets.  But in 2010 financial markets around the globe are experiencing unprecented volatility.  Why?  It is because the entire world financial system has been gripped by fear.  In today’s crazed environment, it seems like just about anything can set off a major panic.  In fact, these days politicians have to be extremely careful about what they say about their national finances, because saying the wrong thing can literally send world markets into violent convulsions.  For instance, when a senior Hungarian official said that the Hungarian economy was in a “very grave situation” last week it sent world financial markets into a tailspin.  Panic was everywhere and everyone was talking about how Hungary could be the “next Greece”.  Of course on Monday Hungarian officials backed away from that comment and tried to reassure world markets that everything was fine, but the damage had been done.

It was a perfect example of the spirit of irrational fear that has gripped the financial world.

After all, even if Hungary did fall apart financially, it wouldn’t plunge the rest of the world into a depression.

And the truth is that Hungary is not really in that bad shape financially.  Hungary’s budget deficit is about half the size of the Greek budget deficit and Hungary doesn’t even use the euro.

But now investors all over the world are constantly scanning the news for the latest piece of information that will send waves of panic through the markets.

In the current environment, fear is what moves the markets.

The reality is that fear is the reason why the euro is plunging at breathtaking speed.

Are many of the economies in Europe truly in really bad shape?

Of course.

However, it could be argued that the economies of the U.S. and Japan are in even worse shape in many ways.  Japan’s gross public debt has reached 201 percent of GDP and the United States has piled up the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world.

But because of the extreme fear that has been generated, people are moving out of the euro and into dollars and yen.

In fact, the euro is probably headed even lower.

GFT Forex’s Boris Schlossberg believes that the euro could fall down to the 1.16/1.17 range before this current panic is over….

“I think we run the risk of seeing 1.16/1.17 before the next selling phase dies down. The euro is just absolutely hated here. The European rescue package still faces some regional opposition. There were rumors the German high court could rule it was unconstitutional. They don’t have a federal mechanism to put it in place, and there’s worries that at any point in time, the rescue package could be sabotaged.”

But all of this fear and panic is actually good for investors in gold and silver.

Why?

Because during times of fear and panic investors look to move their money into something that is secure, and gold and silver have been secure investments for thousands of years.

So in this environment of fear, gold is absolutely soaring.  On Monday, the price of gold climbed 1.9 percent to $1239.30 per ounce.  That was the largest one day rise in the price of gold since February 16th.

So how high will gold go?

Well, the truth is that nobody knows.

But if fear and panic continue to grip world financial markets in the months ahead, there is really no telling how high it could go.

In fact, even many mainstream financial analysts are becoming extremely bullish on gold.

As Dan Burrows of Daily Finance recently commented, “you don’t have to be a member of the build-a-bunker-in-Montana crowd to believe gold could hit $2,500 in the next couple of years.”

But these days no investment is truly safe.  One really bad rumor these days can send any stock, any currency or any commodity into a tailspin.

Fear is everywhere.  Governments and central banks are intervening in the markets in unprecedented ways, but it is still not enough to keep the markets from flopping around like a dying fish.

So for those who are waiting for the financial markets to get back to “normal”, you are likely to be waiting for quite a long time.  The world economic situation is not going to be getting any better in the long-term.  So if financial markets are flipping out this much even now, just wait and see what happens when things really start falling apart.

Has Gold Become A New Reserve Currency?

For decades, the U.S. dollar has been the reserve currency of the world.  This has given the United States an extraordinary amount of economic power, but as the U.S. economy has started to come apart over the past decade, other nations have increasingly sought to move away from the U.S. dollar and find other alternatives.  For a long time it was thought that the Euro would become the next great reserve currency of the world.  However, the recent Greek debt crisis, along with massive financial instability in nations such as Portugal, Spain and Italy, has caused investors to rapidly lose confidence in the Euro.  In fact there are even some whispers that the Euro may not even survive the sovereign debt crisis as it sweeps across Europe.  With both the U.S. dollar and the Euro looking shaky, investors have been searching somewhere safe to put their money.  Increasingly, they have been turning to gold.  So has gold now become a new reserve currency?  Will all of this new demand drive the price of gold into unprecedented territory?

Well, the truth is that as long as paper currencies around the world continue to show instability, gold will continue to be a preferred choice.  Nations all over the world are looking for ways to diversify their very large foreign exchange reserves.  For example, China now has approximately $2 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, and has been wanting to reduce its position in U.S. dollars for quite some time now.

But where should they put their money?

The Euro is coming apart like a 20 dollar suit.  There is a very real fear that Greece is only the first domino to fall and that soon nations like Italy, Spain and Portugal will be begging the IMF for assistance as the sovereign debt crisis sweeps across Europe.

Well, what about the British pound?  The truth is that the pound is not very appealing right now because the U.K. is facing a massive government debt crisis as well.  In fact, Bank of England governor Mervyn King recently warned that public anger over the “austerity measures” that soon must be implemented in the U.K. will be so intense that whatever party wins this election will be out of power for a generation.

Well, how about the Japanese yen?  Ironically, there has been a move towards the Japanese yen in recent days, but the truth is that the Japanese debt situation is one of the worst in the world.  Japan’s gross public debt has reached 201 percent of GDP and  Japan’s battle with deflation dragged into its 13th straight month in March.  No, the yen is not safe at all.

So does that bring us back to the U.S. dollar?  No.  There is a reason why nations all over the world have been wanting to get out of the U.S. dollar.  The United States has piled up the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world, and even official U.S. government reports admit that the U.S. government is on a financial path that is not even close to sustainable.  The U.S. economy is caught in a death spiral, and that makes the U.S. dollar very unsafe.

So, what is safe at this point?

Well, gold is.

The price of gold rose to $1,210 an ounce on Friday.  The terms “flight to quality” and “safe haven” are increasingly being used for the precious metal as investors flee all of the major global paper currencies.

Just consider some of the recent comments about gold by financial experts that have shown up in the news….

Stephen Platt, a commodity analyst at Archer Financial Services Inc. in Chicago:

“The sovereign-debt panic is spreading and forcing a flight to quality into gold.”

Citigroup analyst David Thurtell:

“Gold is now enjoying safe haven status, partly because bonds, particularly peripheral euro zone government and bank paper, is no longer a safe haven.”

Dennis Gartman, an economist and the editor of the Suffolk, Virginia-based Gartman Letter:

“There is a clear flight into quality to the gold market as frightened capital seeks a haven of any sort while confusion reigns.”

So will this move towards gold continue?

Sure.

Although anyone who follows the gold market knows that big financial institutions regularly work to suppress the price of gold.  In fact, one industry insider recently decided to be a whistleblower and came forward with “smoking gun” evidence of price manipulation in the precious metals markets, but the CFTC didn’t do a thing about it.

Fortunately, the overwhelming demand for gold is now pushing the price up despite efforts to suppress it.

In addition, once it becomes apparent that most of the “gold” that is traded in the world is not backed by the actual metal itself, the price of gold will go even higher.

For years, almost everyone has assumed that the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA), the world’s largest gold market, had actual gold to back up the massive “gold deposits” at the major LBMA banks.

But that is just not the case.

People are now starting to realize that there is very little actual gold in the LBMA system.

When most people think they are buying “gold”, what they are actually buying are just pieces of paper that say they own gold.

Egon von Greyerz of Matterhorn Asset Management in Switzerland recently elaborated on this point.  He says that “a lot of people who have studied it closely are convinced that there is a major shortage in physical gold at LBMA. LBMA trades around 700 tons net of gold daily. That is 25% of world annual production and around $6 trillion annually. To back that amount of trading on a 100% reserve ratio basis, it would need several year’s production of physical gold, which they definitively haven’t got.”

So what is going to happen when investors start demanding physical delivery of the gold that they purchase?

It is going to create a huge mess.

Needless to say, if you are investing in gold make sure that you take physical delivery of the gold.

As the paper currenices all over the globe continue to unravel (as all debt-based paper currencies always do), all precious metals, including gold, will be increasingly in demand.

In fact, the idea of gold being a “reserve currency” is not anything new.

Gold has been a “reserve currency” for thousands of years, and those who understand history know that it will always remain one.

8 Theories For Why The Stock Market Plunged Almost 1000 Points In A Matter Of Minutes On May 6th

In one of the most dizzying half-hours in stock market history, the Dow plunged nearly 1,000 points on Thursday, May 6th before bouncing back to close down 347.80 points.  This represented the biggest intraday decline since 1987.  But what made this crash so absolutely shocking is that it happened in the course of less than an hour.  Between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. the Dow lost over 700 points before dramatically bouncing back about 600 points.  Two of the 30 stocks in the Dow, Procter & Gamble and 3M, plunged more than 30% in just 15 minutes.  Accenture went from trading at around 40 dollars a share all the way down to one cent before bouncing back.  Traders and investors were left completely stunned and wondering what in the world had just happened.

So what did happen?

The following are some of the most common theories being put forward to explain what happened….

#1) A Bad Trade

It has been widely suggested that a “fat finger trade” was responsible for triggering the panic.  According to CNBC, “sources” have told that network that a trader (possibly at Citigroup) entered a “b” for billion instead of an “m” for million in a trade involving Procter & Gamble.

However, Citigroup has already announced that it has found “no evidence” that it was involved in any erroneous trades.  In fact, a statement was released in which Citigroup spokesman Stephen Cohen said this….

“At this point, we have no evidence that Citi was involved in any erroneous transaction.”

#2) A Computer Glitch

New York Stock Exchange spokesman Rich Adamonis says that “there were a number of erroneous trades” on May 6th, and that these could have been caused by computer error.

And the truth is that trading in the financial markets is more automated and more reliant on computers than it ever has been before.  Trading literally moves at lightning speed now, and a number of analysts are warning that the pace of the market is so fast at this point that it is really easy for things to spin out of control very quickly.

But if this was really primarily caused by a “computer glitch”, how are investors supposed to have any confidence at all in the market?  After all, if a computer error can wipe out half your account in less than an hour, why invest at all?

#3) Cascading Stop Losses

Once the market hits certain technical levels, it is going to automatically start triggering stop loss orders.  Once those stop loss orders are triggered, it will push the market down further thus triggering more stop loss orders.

While there have been some protections implemented to guard against this kind of thing, the reality is that it does still happen.

#4) Hackers

Hackers have become more sophisticated and more cunning than ever before.  In fact, the bigger a target is, the more enjoyment most hackers get out of taking them down.  Is it a possible that someone could have hacked in to the New York Stock Exchange?

#5) Cyberterrorism

Rogue nations and terrorist organizations have been developing their “cyber warfare” capabilities for some time now.  We have been repeatedly warned that someday we will see an “Internet 9/11”.  Could this stock market plunge be a preview of that?

#6) Fear Of The European Debt Crisis Spreading

There are mounting concerns in the financial markets about Greece’s financial condition and that the European debt crisis could spread around the globe.

In fact, the Dow has lost 631 points, or more than 5%, in just the last three days amidst worries about the situation in Greece.  This represents the biggest three day drop since March 2009.

#7) Stop Hunting

Anyone who has spent much time in the Forex market knows what this is all about.  The truth is that some of the big financial sharks in the marketplace seem to really enjoy blowing out stop losses.

So could have this have been a situation where a stop loss hunting expedition spun wildly out of control?

#8) A Real Panic

There is also the possibility that this was a real financial panic.  There are huge concerns about what is going on in Europe and the currency markets are fluctuating wildly.  The Dow was already down several hundred points even before the massive plunge took place.  The reality is that there is a lot of fear in the financial markets right now.

But if it was a real panic, then why did the Dow bounce back so quickly?  Well, it is the job of the “plunge protection team” to keep the stock market from declining too rapidly.  So did the “plunge protection team” swing into action today?  Well, the truth is that we will probably never know because the general public is not supposed to know when they intervene.

In any event, the next couple of days should hopefully make all of this a lot clearer.  The trading during the afternoon of May 6th at the big firms will be gone over with a fine-toothed comb, and the exchanges will be closely analyzing their systems for any glitches.

It has already been announced that some of the most erroneous trades will be cancelled.  The Nasdaq and NYSE’s ARCA trading unit have both said that they will cancel trades executed between 2:40 p.m. and 3 p.m. on May 6th where a stock price rose or fell more than 60 percent from the last trade in that security at 2:40 p.m.

But this episode shows just how vulnerable our financial markets really are.  After witnessing what we saw today, it is going to be really hard to have confidence in the system.

In fact, even if this was just one “bad trade” or a “simple computer glitch”, the reality is that this episode is going to inject even more fear into a marketplace that is already filled with tension.

When fear grips a market things can go south very, very quickly.  The truth is that markets tend to fall more quickly than they rise, and if a wave of panic starts sweeping over the financial markets we could see things get quite messy in the coming days.

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