Derivatives Market a $1.2 Quadrillion Time Bomb

Sorry for the lack of Posts last week as I was on a cruise with bad internet. This is the mega-issue that will take down the banking system.-Lou

MushroomCloud

 

Derivatives Market a $1.2 Quadrillion Time Bomb

 

The Independent

Financial jargon is often arcane and perplexing to the average person. While even casual observers have surely heard of derivatives, most are unlikely to know what exactly they are.

Derivatives, or swaps, are basically bets between companies and banks that are designed, in essence, to be insurance policies.

The problem with derivatives is that since they often involve highly leveraged bets, they can be very dangerous. A small change in market conditions can mean huge losses.

Such losses can occur because derivatives use extraordinary leverage, or borrowing. Derivatives allow investors to earn large returns from small movements in the underlying asset’s price. However, investors can also lose large amounts if the price of the underlying asset moves against them significantly.

In fact, derivatives were used to conceal credit risk from third parties while protecting derivative counterparties, which contributed to the financial crisis in 2008.

That threat still lingers today. If interest rates were to rise unexpectedly, for example, it could result in a financial bloodbath on Wall Street.

Derivatives are used to make the really big money on Wall St. They can be many things, but are basically contracts or bets that derive their value from the performance of something else — an interest rate, a bond or stock, a loan, a currency, a commodity, virtually anything.

For traders, derivatives are a perfect product. They can also be highly lucrative to financial institutions. Over the last five years, banks earned an estimated $20 billion selling derivatives just to school districts, hospitals, and scores of state and local governments across the country.

Yet, as Warren Buffett famously stated, derivatives are “financial weapons of mass destruction.”

The global derivatives market is highly complex, totally unregulated and freakishly large. According to one of the world’s leading derivatives experts, Paul Wilmott, who holds a doctorate in applied mathematics from Oxford University, the so-called notional value of the worldwide derivatives market is $1.2 quadrillion.

A quadrillion is an incomprehensibly massive figure: 1,000 times a trillion. The market’s notional value is 20 times the size of the global economy.

The annual gross domestic product of the entire planet is between $50 trillion and $60 trillion.

Even if Congress decided to regulate the stunningly massive derivatives market, regulators wouldn’t be able to assess the risks of derivatives because they don’t understand them. Congress doesn’t understand them either.

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Lenders Can Disable Cars of Subprime Borrowers If They Miss Payments

Wow, this is amazing but it makes sense. Instant Repo!-Lou

Watch Video Here

 

Miss a Payment? Good Luck Moving That Car

 

The thermometer showed a 103.5-degree fever, and her 10-year-old’s asthma was flaring up. Mary Bolender, who lives in Las Vegas, needed to get her daughter to an emergency room, but her 2005 Chrysler van would not start.

The cause was not a mechanical problem — it was her lender.

Ms. Bolender was three days behind on her monthly car payment. Her lender, C.A.G. Acceptance of Mesa, Ariz., remotely activated a device in her car’s dashboard that prevented her car from starting. Before she could get back on the road, she had to pay more than $389, money she did not have that morning in March.

“I felt absolutely helpless,” said Ms. Bolender, a single mother who stopped working to care for her daughter. It was not the only time this happened: Her car was shut down that March, once in April and again in June.

This new technology is bringing auto loans — and Wall Street’s version of Big Brother — into the lives of people with credit scores battered by the financial downturn.

Auto loans to borrowers considered subprime, those with credit scores at or below 640, have spiked in the last five years. The jump has been driven in large part by the demand among investors for securities backed by the loans, which offer high returns at a time of low interest rates. Roughly 25 percent of all new auto loans made last year were subprime, and the volume of subprime auto loans reached more than $145 billion in the first three months of this year.

But before they can drive off the lot, many subprime borrowers like Ms. Bolender must have their car outfitted with a so-called starter interrupt device, which allows lenders to remotely disable the ignition. Using the GPS technology on the devices, the lenders can also track the cars’ location and movements.

The devices, which have been installed in about two million vehicles, are helping feed the subprime boom by enabling more high-risk borrowers to get loans. But there is a big catch. By simply clicking a mouse or tapping a smartphone, lenders retain the ultimate control. Borrowers must stay current with their payments, or lose access to their vehicle.

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Listen To This Week’s Radio Show (9/19/14)

This week’s radio show is now available.-Lou Listen Here

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Five Reasons To Own Gold

Super-Rich Rush To Buy “Italian Job” Style Gold Bars

Central Banks and the wealthy are buying gold with both fists but gold goes down on the fraudulent COMEX (CRIMEX).-Lou

 

Super-Rich Rush To Buy “Italian Job” Style Gold Bars

Economic uncertainties trigger rush for 12.5kg gold bars, worth about £300,000 each

The super-rich are looking to protect their wealth through buying record numbers of “Italian job” style gold bars, according to bullion experts.

The number of 12.5kg gold bars being bought by wealthy customers has increased 243pc so far this year, when compared to the same period last year, said Rob Halliday-Stein founder of BullionByPost.

“These gold bars are usually stored in the vaults of central banks and are the same ones you see in the film ‘The Italian Job’,” added David Cousins, bullion executive from London based ATS Bullion.

The bars which are made from pure gold and are worth more than £300,000 each at today’s prices of $1,223 (£760) an ounce.

The sales of 1kg gold bars, worth about £25,000 each, has doubled during the three months ended August, when compared to the same period last year, according to ATS Bullion sales figures.

Sales of the more popular gold coins such as the quarter ounce sovereign and one ounce Krugerrand have also doubled this year, according to figures from BullionByPost.

Mr Halliday-Stein said that while most customers arrange for secure storage of the larger bars in secret vaults operated by Brinks, some customers have taken physical delivery of the 12.5kg bars. The small coins can also be sent in the post.

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Feelings of Material Entitlement Lead To Financial Failure

This week’s column for Physician’s Money digest.-Lou

Feelings of Material Entitlement Lead To Financial Failure

Louis G. Scatigna, CFP | Wednesday, September 17, 2014
At no time in history have any people lived as well as we Americans have been living for the past 30 years. We have acted as if we were extraordinarily wealthy people with unlimited funds and buying power. Now that we are in a period of economic stagnation, millions are paying a steep price for living the high life and with such abandon.

When I was growing up, my parents, my 5 siblings and I lived in a small house. Although our quarters were close, we made it work. Our family had one car, which we kept until it died. Every night we all sat down for dinner together. On the rare occasions we ate out, it was to celebrate a special event. When I was a kid, we took only one vacation — we all got in the car and drove to Niagara Falls.

Money was always tight, so our family lived frugally and watched what we spent. My parents only bought what we needed. We didn’t have credit cards, so we had to live within our means. When we wanted to buy something for ourselves, we frequently had to save for it, which took a while, or we bought it “on time.”

Today, people live totally differently; they have a different attitude. They’re driven by feelings of material entitlement. They believe that they deserve to live extravagant lifestyles — the type of lives they see in the movies, magazines, advertisements and on television, which most of them can’t afford. To get what they think they deserve, they spend all they have, erode their savings and plunge into debt. They live in a culture of credit.

Americans today are also impatient and unwilling to wait. Since they won’t hold off until they can afford what they want, they put it on plastic, on their credit cards. By feasting today, they risk starving tomorrow.

Because they have feelings of entitlement, people use credit to purchase what they can’t afford. And the use of credit is the main reason why people fail financially.
The typical symptoms of feelings of material entitlement include:

  • Buying homes that are bigger and more luxurious than needed. In most cases, the larger the home, the more it costs to buy, furnish, maintain, heat, cool, light and insure. Plus, the property taxes are higher.
  • Frequently buying new, luxury cars. Like large homes, luxury cars cost more to buy or lease, finance, run, repair and insure — and they tend to be less energy efficient. Getting a new car every few years wastes money because today’s cars are built to run much longer.
  • Dining out several times a week and frequently buying take-out food. Eating at home is much cheaper and much healthier — physically and financially. Bringing your lunch to work instead of eating out can save you hundreds of dollars a year.
  • Taking frequent vacations. At least once a year, many families take vacations whether they can afford it or not. Frequently, they travel long distances to exotic resorts and locales. In addition, they often take shorter trips throughout the year. Traveling is expensive and the cost of frequent vacations mounts up — especially since most are charged to credit cards.
  • Shopping and buying unneeded items. For many people shopping is entertainment or retail therapy. It also can be wasteful because many purchases are made on impulse, not because of need. Shoppers often accumulate closets and attics full of stuff that they barely use. Live simpler, more disciplined lives within your means. Differentiate between what you need and what you want or feel you deserve.


Try this exercise; it can help change your attitude:

  1. Itemize how you spend your money. List every expense you pay each month. For example, $100 each month for cable TV.
  2. After you list each of your expenses, evaluate each and circle those that you could cut back on or eliminate. For example, those premium cable channels that you rarely watch.
  3. See how much you could save on each circled item.
  4. Calculate how much in total you could save. The average family can often lower their expenses by 5 to 10%.


Eliminate waste in your life. If that means downsizing your home, cars and lifestyle, think seriously about doing so.

The U.S. National Debt Has Grown By More Than A Trillion Dollars In The Last 12 Months

We are doomed as a country. Everything coming out of government now is a lie.-Lou

 

The U.S. National Debt Has Grown By More Than A Trillion Dollars In The Last 12 Months

By Michael Snyder, on September 14th, 2014

America-Is-Broke-300x300The idea that the Obama administration has the budget deficit under control is a complete and total lie.  According to the U.S. Treasury, the federal government has officially run a deficit of 589 billion dollars for the first 11 months of fiscal year 2014.  But this number is just for public consumption and it relies on accounting tricks which massively understate how much debt is actually being accumulated.  If you want to know what the real budget deficit is, all you have to do is go to a U.S. Treasury website which calculates the U.S. national debt to the penny.  On September 30th, 2013 the U.S. national debt was sitting at $16,738,183,526,697.32.  As I write this, the U.S. national debt is sitting at $17,742,108,970,073.37.  That means that the U.S. national debt has actually grown by more than a trillion dollars in less than 12 months.  We continue to wildly run up debt as if there is no tomorrow, and by doing so we are destroying the future of this nation.

The chart that I have posted below shows the exponential growth of the U.S. national debt over the past several decades.  Anyone that would characterize this as “under control” is lying to you…

National Debt 2014

This is the greatest government debt bubble in the history of the world, but very few people seem to have any desire to do anything about this anymore.  We are literally gorging on debt, and most Americans seem to think that it is just fine and dandy.

Perhaps that it is because we have never really experienced any serious consequences for going into so much debt yet.

But when it comes to running up debt, a day of reckoning always comes eventually.

Just ask Greece.

And the absolutely insane spending policies of this administration and this Congress are hastening the day when our day of reckoning will arrive.

Consider the following facts…

-The U.S. national debt has increased by more than 7 trillion dollars since Barack Obama has been in the White House.  By the time Obama’s second term is over, we will have accumulated about as much new debt under his leadership than we did under all of the other U.S. presidents in all of U.S. history combined.

-The U.S. national debt is now more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first established in 1913.

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Your Choice of Financial Advisors Will Determine Your Success

My column this week for Physician’s Money Digest.-Lou

financial-advisor-couple

Your Choice of Financial Advisors Will Determine Your Success

Louis G. Scatigna, CFP | Wednesday, September 10, 2014

 

We’re bombarded by tips and financial advice that can cost us lots of money. We get them from friends, family, TV personalities, media pundits and financial gurus. Unfortunately, they’re often bad or too late. We’re told to invest in hot trends, bubbles involving certain companies or industries. But by the time we invest, everyone has bought in, the price has gone up and the bubble is about to burst.

Then there’s “inside information.” The brother-in-law of a woman who works at X Corp. gives your Uncle Jack a tip about a revolutionary new product that X Corp. is about to launch. According to the brother-in-law, “It will sell like hot cakes and just can’t miss.” So you, Uncle Jack and half your family buy X Corp’s stock, the new product bombs and you lose big.

Advice from professionals such as stockbrokers and financial advisors can also be dicey, especially when they work on a commission basis. Many financial advisors receive a commission on every transaction they make for their clients, regardless of whether those investments make or lose money. The advisors can’t lose, even though their clients often do.

Blindly acting on advice from others can be a sure way to lose money. Before you invest, learn about financial advisors and investments. Find out who you can trust to advise you on how stock markets work and about specific industries — especially those in which you may invest.

To familiarize yourself with the financial world, read publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, The Financial Times, Money, Bloomberg Businessweek and Forbes. At first, you may feel as if you’re reading a foreign language, but stick with it because it will quickly begin to make sense and you’ll learn a great deal.

Check the Internet; lots of great information is available online. Market Watch, which is owned by Dow Jones, provides comprehensive financial news, commentary and market data. Other good sources are Yahoo FinanceMSN MoneyCNN Money and Bloomberg.

Listen to my weekly radio program, “The Financial Physician”, on WOMB-AM and on the Internet at www.wobmam.com.
Watch out for titles. People are impressed by titles, which is why nearly 100 different financial-advisor designations now exist. The requirements for these titles differ greatly. Some take years of education, experience and continuing education, while others only mean that someone has taken a three-hour course.

It doesn’t take much to get a license to sell mutual funds or other securities and then call yourself a financial advisor. And the fact that a person or firm is licensed or registered does not guarantee success. Get recommendations and investigate any advisor before you do business with him or her.

It’s crucial to know what different financial-advisor titles mean and the qualifications for each. It can help you to decide whom to work with. Since so many financial advisor titles exist, I’ve highlighted few of the major designations and some easy and weaker ones.

1. Major designations

A. Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

This is the most prestigious financial-advisor designation. The basic requirements for a CFP are:

  • 3 years experience in the financial services industry and a bachelor’s degree or 5 years of financial planning experience.
  • Must pass a 2-day exam that covers financial planning, taxes, insurance, estate planning and retirement.
  • Maintain a high ethical conduct.
  • Complete 30 hours of continuing education every 2 years.

A CFP will understand all of the major financial categories: investments, insurance, estate planning, 

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What FICO’s New Credit Score Formula Means for Home Buyers

Sounds like a reasonable change to me.-Lou

fico-credit-score-chart

What FICO’s New Credit Score Formula Means for Home Buyers

Fox Business

Your credit score plays a major role in the home-buying process, especially in the wake of the 2008 housing crash. A low score can mean higher mortgage interest rates or not qualifying for a loan at all.

If it’s medical debt or lack of credit that’s hurting your chances of getting a mortgage, a new version of FICO’s credit score formula could help your chances of getting a mortgage. The upgrade, known as FICO 9, will be released this fall.

 “With FICO 9, the score will be much less sensitive to medical collections information reported to the credit bureaus,” says Mike Kinane, senior vice president of consumer lending at TD Bank. “Right now, the current score models have a heavier weighting to medical collections accounts.”

The FICO Score was created by Fair Isaac Corp. and is used by lenders to help determine loan eligibility to borrowers. The score is calculated by information in the consumer credit reports maintained by Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Scores range from 300 (lowest) to 850 with 850. With the new score changes, medical collections will have a lower impact on a score. It also drops collection agency accounts that are paid off either via a settlement or paid in full.

What’s more, people with little or no credit will be given a score based on non-traditional credit. According to FICO, the median FICO score for consumers who only have medical collections on their credit report will increase by 25 points with the changes.

Mortgage experts don’t think when FICO 9 is adopted in masse by lenders that it will have a dramatic increase in new home sales, but they do say it can help a set group of people secure a loan or get better terms.

“The medical debt component won’t have a major impact because lenders already manually discount that,” says Brian Simon, COO at New Penn Financial. “The more interesting part is historically it’s difficult for people who don’t have credit to get credit.”

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Importance of Good Record Keeping and Review for Financial Success

My weekly column of Physician’s Money Digest.-Lou

 

Importance of good record keeping and Review for Financial Success

When you go to your doctor for your annual check-up, your height, weight and vital signs are checked. You’re asked how you feel, if you have any pressing problems and that information is entered in your chart. Then the doctor reviews your record, notes changes from the previous year, gives you some more tests and discusses your physical condition with you. Every year, the same process is repeated.
Since we know that our physical health is vitally important, we undergo comprehensive medical examinations each year. We also give our doctor enough information to provide a good picture of our overall condition. However, when it comes to our financial health, few of us are nearly as diligent. Most of us don’t keep good financial records, make budgets or monitor our overall financial health.

Not keeping good financial records, checking your accounts, knowing your net worth and budgeting is financial malpractice. It can easily get your into deep financial trouble. By not keeping track of your finances, you can miss obvious danger signs, irregularities or dormant symptoms that recently sprang to life. They can damage your financial well-being and be expensive to fix.

Think of financial recordkeeping and review as preventative medicine — necessary steps you should take to stay financially fit.

As the 2008 financial crisis deepened and the stock market nose-dived, millions of people didn’t open their financial statements. Deliberately, they buried their heads in the sand because they were afraid to face how much they lost — so they chose not to look. They decided that ignorance was bliss, which it seldom is. As a result, they didn’t learn the extent of their losses and many didn’t spot places where they could have acted to reverse or reduce the pain.

Most people shy away from financial recordkeeping. They don’t like to balance their checkbooks and the idea of comparing their checkbook registers against their bank statements horrifies them. Some are just undisciplined, others don’t care. Many are afraid that they will make mistakes. For years, they have told themselves that they were never good at math — so they grew up hating and avoiding it. They think that keeping and checking any financial information is an onerous chore to be avoided at all costs.

Ironically, financial recordkeeping isn’t hard; but it takes a little time, organization, and attention. When you regularly monitor your finances, you feel proud of yourself and become more interested and engaged. You also become more disciplined. You always feel better when you’re in control of the car.

As you get more involved in keeping track of your finances, it becomes easier and something you might even enjoy. When you see improvement, it motivates you and makes you more engaged. When you place money in an account each month, you look forward to seeing statements that show how much your balance has grown.

If you regularly monitor your accounts, it gives you more control over your finances. You can make quick adjustments, such as cutting your losses or seizing potentially profitable opportunities, that often have narrow windows during which you can act.

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