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The defining book for the current

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Gordon T Long

RESEARCH ANALYTICS for the GLOBAL MACRO

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Shifting Risk to the Innocent

 

Uncle Sam, You Sly Devil!

 

Is the US Facing a Cash Crunch?

 

Gaming the US Tax Payer

 

Manufacturing a Minsky Melt-Up

 

Hitting the Maturity Wall

 

An Accounting Driven Market Recovery

 


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"SULTANS OF SWAP"

 

ACT I

Sultans of Swap: Smoking Guns!

ACT II

Sultans of Swap: The Sting!

ACT III

Sultans of Swap: The Get Away!

 

 

ALSO

SULTANS OF SWAP: Explaining $605 Trillion in Derivatives!

 

SULTANS OF SWAP: Fearing the Gearing!

 

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COMMENTARY for all articles by Gordon T Long

 

EXTEND & PRETEND: Stage I Comes to an End!

The Dog Ate my Report Card

 

Both came to an end at the same time: the administration’s policy to Extend & Pretend has run out of time as has the patience of the US electorate with the government’s Keynesian economic policy responses. Desperate last gasp attempts are to be fully expected, but any chance of success is rapidly diminishing.

Before we can identify what needs to be done, what the administration is likely to do and how we can preserve and protect our wealth through it, we need to first determine where we are going wrong. Surprisingly, no one has assessed the results of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act 2009 (ARRA) which was this administration’s cornerstone program to place the US back on the post financial crisis road to recovery.

We can safely conclude either:

1-    The administration completely under estimated the extent of the economic crisis, even though we were well into it when the ARRA was introduced.

2-    The administration was unable to secure the actually required stimulus amount which was likely 4-5 times that approved.

3-    The administration failed to implement the program in a timely manner.

4-    The administration failed to diagnose the problem correctly and that in fact it is a structural problem versus a cyclical and liquidity problem, as they still insist it to be.

I personally believe it is all four of the above.

READ MORE

 

 

SULTANS OF SWAP: BP Potentially More Devastating then Lehman!

 

As horrific as the gulf environmental catastrophe is, an even more intractable and cataclysmic disaster may be looming. The yet unknowable costs associated with clean-up, litigation and compensation damages due to arguably the world’s worst environmental tragedy, may be in the process of triggering a credit event by British Petroleum (BP) that will be equally devastating to global over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives. The potential contagion may eventually show that Lehman Bros. and Bear Stearns were simply early warning signals of the devastation lurking and continuing to grow unchecked in the $615T OTC Derivatives market.

 

What is yet unknowable is what the reality is of BP’s off-balance sheet obligations and leverage positions. How many Special Purpose Entities (SPEs) is it operating? Remember, during the Enron debacle Andrew Fastow, the Enron CFO, asserted in testimony nearly 10 years ago that GE had 2500 such entities already in existence. BP has even more physical assets than Enron and GE. Furthermore, no one knows the true size of BP’s OTC derivative contracts such as Interest Rate Swaps and Currency Swaps. Only the major international banks have visibility to what the collateral obligations associated with these instruments are, their credit trigger events and who the counter parties are. They are obviously not talking, but as I will explain, they are aggressively repositioning trillions of dollars in global currency, swap, derivative, options, debt and equity portfolios.

 

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READER ROADMAP -  2010 TIPPING POINTS aid to positioning COMMENTARY

 

 

 

1

         

SOVEREIGN DEBT PIIGS

EU BANKING CRISIS
BOND BUBBLE

STATE & LOCAL GOVERNMENT

CENTRAL & EASTERN EUROPE
BANKING CRISIS II
RISK REVERSAL

COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE

CREDIT CONTRACTION II

RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE - PHASE II
EXPIRATION FINANCIAL CRISIS PROGRAM
US FISCAL IMBALANCES
PENSION CRISIS
CHINA BUBBLE

TODAY'S TIPPING POINTS UPDATE

Last Update: 07/09/2010 03:28 AM

RED ALERT

AMBER ALERT

ACTIVITY

MONITOR

Click to Enlarge

 

 

POSTS:   THURSDAY 07-08-10

 

 

GEO-POLITICAL TENSIONS - ISRAEL / KOREA / IRAN

 

IRAN

EXTEND & PRETEND: Stage I Comes to an End!

Is there a Gallup or some other polling "unpopularity" threshold that the G-20 is waiting for before letting loose all those aircraft carriers recently parked [1] next to the Persian Gulf, the Israeli jets in Saudi Arabia [2] or the recent US troop buildup [3] on the Iran border? [4] (Italics is my addition: see the charts I have added for [X] locations. I have also added [5] for the highly symbolic July 4th long weekend visit of Hillary Clinton to Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia)

 

 

ISRAEL

 

KOREA 

 

SOVEREIGN DEBT & CREDIT CRISIS

 

IMF warns on global recovery  FT

Risk of a slowdown has risen sharply, fund says

IMF’s levy on financial institutions ‘outrageous’  FT

Nations disagree over IMF bank taxes  FT

 

Presentation: EMU under pressure DB Research

 

EU-wide rethink on 'unsustainable' pensions   BBC

 

GREECE

Papandreou Passes Pension Overhaul as Unions Strike in Protest  Business Week

 

ITALY

 

SPAIN / PORTUGAL

 

FRANCE

 

GERMANY

 

UK

In the UK, the BBC reports that a quarter of a million workers at 400 universities, higher education colleges and associated institutions face cuts in their pensions.

 

JAPAN

Japan's Machinery Orders Slump 9.1%, Most Since 2008  BL

 

CHINA

China won't dump U.S. Treasuries or pile into gold Reuters
“In a series of questions and answers posted on its website, www.safe.gov.cn, SAFE asked rhetorically whether China would use its $2.45 trillion stockpile of reserves, the world's largest, as a "nuclear weapon."

China spells out gold reserve policy Reuters

China rules out ‘nuclear option’ on T-bills  FT

Safe will hold on to US debt but urges dollar responsibility

ECB turns into a bigger, bolder banker  FT

Expanded role under Jean-Claude Trichet in battle against economic crisis

raises questions on the future

 

USA


EU BANKING CRISIS

 

 

BOND BUBBLEBOND BUBBLE

 

STATE & LOCAL GOVERNMENT/b>

State Pension Woes Only Worsening … M&M
Allstate CEO Says U.S. State, Local Borrowing `Out of Control' BL

It's Time For A Marshall Plan To Save Disastrous State Budgets  BI

 

CENTRAL & EASTERN EUROPECENTRAL & EASTERN EUROPE

 

 

HUNGARYY

 

BANKING CRISIS III

 

Hospitals Claim Wall Street Wounds  WSJ
Hospitals that made wrong-way "swaps" and auction-rate bets are blaming Wall Street. The Street says the hospitals had reaped millions of dollars in savings before the market turned sour.

Some hospitals are paying millions of dollars in penalties to get out of derivatives contracts, after betting incorrectly that interest rates would rise. Other hospitals are paying higher interest rates. At many, these ill-fated financial bets have contributed to layoffs and scuttled projects.

More than 500 nonprofit hospitals—at least one in six—bought interest-rate "swaps" in a bid to lower their borrowing costs, estimates Municipal Market Advisors, a Concord, Mass., consulting firm. The swaps allowed hospitals to act much like homeowners switching from a floating-rate mortgage to fixed-rate one, betting on rising interest rates.

For a fee, the hospitals received a fixed rate to sell bonds, lower than the municipal-bond market at the time. These bets backfired when the Federal Reserve cut interest rates to nearly zero from more than 5% in 2007.

Hospitals also issued auction-rate securities—which reset bond prices weekly or monthly through auctions—that represented about a third of the $330 billion market for these derivatives. Hospitals paid Wall Street firms more than $120 million in fees for the securities between 2005 and 2007, said data firm Thomson Reuters. That market dried in the 2008 financial panic, leaving hospitals with higher interest rates.

Wall Street firms and many hospital executives say interest-rate swaps were a plain-vanilla product that they have sold for years and say no one could have foreseen the crisis that cratered the auction-rate securities market. "For years and years it was a smart strategy," said Richard Clarke, president of Healthcare Financial Management Association, a trade group. "Hospitals made money on these for a long time."

The hospital deals were part of a larger stampede into swaps contracts by cities, schools and other taxing districts seeking to lower their payments on bonds they sold. Some strapped hospitals only now are beginning to break the contracts and pay a financial penalty for it.

Swaps were "the Edsel of the time," said John Hackbarth Jr., chief financial officer of Owensboro Medical Health System of Kentucky, which recently paid about $14 million to end an interest-rate swap with Merrill Lynch, now part of Bank of America Corp.

 

The Banking Credit Freeze Is Finally Beginning To Thaw BI

Right now, the freeze on bank lending is beginning to thaw, as consumers continue to pay down their debt.

From Deutsche Bank:

Consumer credit is projected to be down slightly in May, but we should not be concerned because the credit crunch is actually abating. According to the Fed’s latest Senior Loan Officer Survey, commercial banks’ willingness to make consumer loans continues to expand.

Deutsche Bank attempt to prove this:

Consumer Credit

While Deutsche Bank limit their positivity with continued concerns over unemployment, we fear that consumers and companies alike are still far more concerned about paying down debt to take on new loans or other credit instruments.

If there is to be any thaw, we feel it will be slow and severely mitigated by the unemployment crisis.

 

DODD FRANK ACT

 

RATING AGENCIESRATING AGENCIES

 

RISK REVERSAL

 

 

COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE

 

CRE loans facing refinancing risks: CMBS only part of a growing problem DB Research
Shopping Center Vacancy Rates Rose in Second Quarter Reuters

Apartment Vacancies in U.S. Drop From 30-Year High, Reis Says  BL

 

Banks Often Extend Sour Property Loans  WSJ
Banks are restructuring many unpaid loans on commercial real estate rather than foreclose, a practice creating uncertainties about the health of both the commercial-property market and some banks

A big push by banks in recent months to modify such loans—by stretching out maturities or allowing below-market interest rates—has slowed a spike in defaults. It also has helped preserve banks' capital, by keeping some dicey loans classified as "performing" and thus minimizing the amount of cash banks must set aside in reserves for future losses.

Restructurings of nonresidential loans stood at $23.9 billion at the end of the first quarter, more than three times the level a year earlier and seven times the level two years earlier. While not all were for commercial real estate, the total makes clear that large numbers of commercial-property borrowers got some leeway.

But the practice is creating uncertainties about the health of both the commercial-property market and some banks. The concern is that rampant modification of souring loans masks the true scope of the commercial property market weakness, as well as the damage ultimately in store for bank balance sheets.

Regulators helped spur banks' recent approach to commercial real estate by crafting new guidelines last October. They gave banks a variety of ways to restructure loans. And they allowed banks to record loans still operating under the original terms as "performing" even if the value of the underlying property had fallen below the loan amount—which is an ominous sign for ultimate repayment. Although regulators say banks shouldn't take the guidelines as a signal to cut borrowers more slack, it appears some did.

Banks hold some $176 billion of souring commercial-real-estate loans, according to an estimate by research firm Foresight Analytics. About two-thirds of bank commercial real-estate loans maturing between now and 2014 are underwater, meaning the property is worth less than the loan on it, Foresight data show. U.S. commercial-real-estate values remain 42% below their October 2007 peak and only slightly above the low they hit in October 2009, according to Moody's Investors Service.

In the first quarter, 9.1% of commercial-property loans held by banks were delinquent, compared with 7% a year earlier and just 1.5% in the first quarter of 2007, according to Foresight.

Banks don't have to disclose how terms on their loans have changed, making it hard to know whether they are setting aside enough cash for possible losses.

Bulk Condo Sales Reveal A Gut-Wrenching Property Price Collapse  BI

 

 

RRESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE - PHASE IIRRESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE - PHASE II

 

 

EXPIRATION FINANCIAL CRISIS PROGRAM/b>

 

 

PENSION & ENTITLEMENTS CRISIS

 

How will Baby Boomers' retirement affect stocks? USAT
Next year, the first of the 79 million Baby Boomers will hit 65 — retirement age.


 

A 13-year reprieve to pay off its pension plan shortfall  Money Canoe

Highest pension costs in the United States   myfoxny

Taxpayers pay $10 billion a year for state pensions -- nearly double in the last decade.  One reason costing millions: In their last year of work, many state employees compile hundreds of hours of overtime in order to increase their salary. Lifelong state pensions are based on the last few years of salary.

"Our ongoing investigation into pension padding has so far identified problems that transcend occupation, region, or job title," Cuomo said. "More critically, we have developed solutions and tactics that, if implemented, can reduce the abuses of the pension system. While we expand the scope of our probe, I urge all public employers to closely examine how they can improve the way they do business for the sake of the state and taxpayers."

Cuomo said that widespread abuse of labor agreements is occurring. His reported cited an example a firefighter who worked 2,004 hours of overtime, a police officer with 823 hours, and a highway maintenance worker who compiled 539 hours near the end of their respective careers.

 Cuomo, who is running for governor, said that most counties allow this padding practice.  The pension-padding investigation did not include New York City employees, but may in the future. Cuomo said that criminal charges may be filed in the most egregious cases.



CHRONIC UNEMPLOYMENT

 

Unemployment Is No Longer A Lagging Indicator: El-Erian CNBC
Workers' salaries lost ground in past decade MW

GOVERNMENT BACKSTOP INSURANCEGOVERNMENT BACKSTOP INSURANCE

 

 

CORPORATE BANKRUPTCIES

 

BBP - British Petroleum

 


 Tony Hayward Flies To Mideast To Meet BP 'Partners' AP

Hayward reaches out to Middle East investors  FT

But any BP injection could face US scrutiny

BP’s relief well close to target  FT

 

BP Sets New Target To Seal Oil Well  WSJ

BP is pushing to fix its runaway Gulf oil well by July 27, possibly weeks before the deadline the company is discussing publicly, in a bid to show investors it has capped its financial liabilities

 

BP to Resist Early Notice of Asset Sales  WSJ

In Gulf, Usual Loans Not an Option  WSJ

BP Sets New Spill Target  WSJ

 

BP Steps Up 'Charm Offensive'  WSJ

BP spokesman said the company hasn't agreed to demands that it notify the U.S. Department of Justice at least 30 days ahead of any significant financial or asset transactions. The company has received a letter from the Justice Department making this demand, but hasn't yet responded, the spokesman said.
 

 

OTHER TIPPING POINT CATEGORIES NOT LISTED ABOVE/b>

 

FLASH CRASH - HFT - DARK POOLS

 

MARKET WARNINGS

ICI Reports Ninth Sequential Equity Fund Outflow In A Row

ICI reports that topping off the underperforming H1 market action was yet another equity market outflow, this one to the tune of ($227) million. This represented the ninth sequential domestic equity mutual fund outflow in a row, and accounts for fund flows of over ($30) billion YTD. This follows on the heels of last week's once again deteriorating AMG/Lipper HY fund outflow report. Retail investors are not only not participating in the market, but are actively continuing to redeem capital out of any form of equity, transferring it into taxable bond funds. Mutual funds continue to not only be low on cash, but facing ongoing redemptions. Luckily, HFTs have none of these problems: all they need is to sniff out a major block bid from a dealer with discount window access, front run it while blowing up the NBBO via subpennying, accelerate the momentum, without needing any actual material capital, and end flat on the day. Mutual Funds will of course take the pick up in price levels and thank HFTs kindly, knowing full well they are unable to be marginal price setters any longer. So aside from the logistics of ramping the market on capital liquidations and margin calls, 4% market surges such as those seen in the past two days make perfect sense.

 

GOLD MANIPULATION

Central Banks Swap Tons of Gold to Raise Cash, Surprising Market WSJ (via Google)
At this rate, the BIS holdings represent the "biggest gold swap in history”

VIDEO TO WATCH

 

 

INTERESTING ARTICLES - GENERAL

 

QUOTE OF THE WEEKQUOTE OF THE WEEK

Rick Santelli Uncut (And GE Turbofan Commercial Free)

Having rapidly become the only person worth listening to on CNBC, Rick Santelli's insights on the economy are now far more valuable than any other guest's on the Jeff Immelt propaganda station. Which is why we were very happy to find that Eric King's latest interview was with none other than Mr. Santelli. The topics discussed are numerous, varied and and very critical to our economy, covering such concepts as deflation, deficit spending, bailouts, government spending multipliers, Fed transparency, spending cuts, austerity, the folly of Keynesianism, strategic defaults, direct bidders and treasury auctions, and lastly, tea party dynamics, making this a must hear interview for anyone still on either side of the economic fence, and who enjoys listening to Rick for longer than the 45 second segments the CNBC producers will allow.

  • Deflation: "deflation is the most disingenuous argument especially in the current conditions. [When the bubble process ends prices have to come down to reality] the process really is deleveraging, but what happens when prices go down you get the economists call it deflation. Deflation is always the biggest bogeyman in a central banker's closet. It also allows them to use the only tool in their toolbox, which is to spend money, and usually money they haven't collected yet, so it's usually a deficit form of spending. Think about what economists are trying to do: we go up too high in leverage, prices are too high, we try to correct that process, it's called deflation, and they try to put money in to prop it up at an artificial price-deleveraging is the word we should stick to"
  • Deficit spending: "the only thing that works is across the board tax cuts because it fuels the type of small business that does the bulk of the hiring"
  • Bailouts: "the only regulation that will ever work is failure. If you don't allow failure what you end up with is regulators trying to serve when it's time to take punch bowls away. Regulators never go against the grain. Back in 03-04 many in the fixed income markets saw it coming but nobody wants to pull that punch bowl away. Businesses should fail, that's the way the system was designed"
  • The Multiplier of Government spending: "Larry Summers on many occasions has said that the multiplier of government spending is greater than 1. If that was true, we'd never have another recession ever again, and I would be advocating to spend a trillion dollars every hour. It would be like a perpetual motion machine and all physicists know those are impossible. Every dollar the government spends comes from somebody's pocket"
  • Fed Transparency: "It seems to me we are making some progress on the financial audit. I absolutely agree that on all of the issues that take taxpayers' money and end up being distributed or put on the balance sheet and in any way used by the Fed, there should be an audit that should be fully transparent. I am worried about the financial accounting"
  • On Spending Cuts: "Listeners, this is going to be the most important thing I am going to say: we need to maintain the focus on spending, the politicians in my lifetime always spend. If we end up spending way more than we can take in, in essence the deficit panel becomes a tax panel. We must stop spending before we talk about VAT taxes or taxing Americans more, we need to get spending under control. The retings of congress are the lowest they have been in history." 
  • On Austerity: "Nobody wants that. But there is a silver lining - the UK have conditions in their economy worse than the US, but they came up with an austerity plan, and we see that their currency has been rewarded. The GBP has risen about 10% in a very short period of time."
  • On Keynesianism: "The Keynesians are both right and wrong. I don't think Keynes advocated the kind of helicopter-Ben spending  that many say he promoted. He promoted the kind of stimulus that created jobs, that's more the medicine for a cyclical downturn, we have a structural issue because of the bubble credit scenario."
  • On the ECB's Debt Monetization: "I think that the ECB has a huge issue and they are behind the ball. They don't have a constitution in the eurozone, they have cultural and monetary cultural issues to deal with. I think that buying securities or monetizing or QE is always a bad idea. Once there is a subsidy in the marketplace, it becomes the normal pricing mechanism. For the Fed or the ECB to unload these securities, becomes a destabilizing force and in the long run does more harm than good."
  • On Strategic Defaults: "I have feelings on this that go both ways. I think morally I would have an issue doing that, but people who did the mortgage, or the second mortgage, or took a HELOC to pay for cars, pay for the vacations, I think it is reprehensible that we end up reshuffling wealth to pay some of that off. But I think the dynamic is from the government side - I think contracts between banks and homeowners - if it's unsecured, it's unsecured, I don't have an issue with that."
  • On Direct Bidders being a proxy for the Fed (a much debated topic on Zero Hedge) and Treasury Auctions in general: "That's the best question anyone has asked me in a long time. I think there is a recycling quid pro quo going on: the Fed is making banking obsolete because a lot of the programs that they have is to take the cheap end of the curve and invest it in Treasuries. Well the Treasury needs as many buyers as it can get. I think the financial institutions are recycling easy money that should be going into John Q Public's pocket, to those that deserve credit, all this money is ending up in the forms of purchases of 10, 7, and 5-Year Notes, and I don't like that way that's working. That's why I think that raising rates would be a good thing. Why? Because it would take some of the easy ways the banks recycle the Fed's cheap money and put it back in the hands of the public and actually make banking a relationship between banks and Americans that need it whether it is for funding a mortgage or funding a small business."
  • And on Tea Party dynamics: "I think November 2 is going to be a watershed of Americans letting Washington know they're the boss."


ZHHstrong> - Zero Hedge, BI - Business Insider, WSJ - Wall Street Journal, BL - Bloomberg, FT - Financial Times

 

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Gordon T Long is not a registered advisor and does not give investment advice. His comments are an expression of opinion only and should not be construed in any manner whatsoever as recommendations to buy or sell a stock, option, future, bond, commodity or any other financial instrument at any time. While he believes his statements to be true, they always depend on the reliability of his own credible sources. Of course, he recommends that you consult with a qualified investment advisor, one licensed by appropriate regulatory agencies in your legal jurisdiction, before making any investment decisions, and barring that, we encourage you confirm the facts on your own before making important investment commitments.

 

© Copyright 2010 Gordon T Long. The information herein was obtained from sources which Mr. Long believes reliable, but he does not guarantee its accuracy. None of the information, advertisements, website links, or any opinions expressed constitutes a solicitation of the purchase or sale of any securities or commodities. Please note that Mr. Long may already have invested or may from time to time invest in securities that are recommended or otherwise covered on this website. Mr. Long does not intend to disclose the extent of any current holdings or future transactions with respect to any particular security. You should consider this possibility before investing in any security based upon statements and information contained in any report, post, comment or recommendation you receive from him.

 

         

TODAY'S NEWS

THURSDAY

07-08-10

JULY
S M T W T F S
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18
19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

ARCHIVAL

SOVEREIGN DEBT PIIGS

EU BANKING CRISIS
BOND BUBBLE

STATE & LOCAL GOVERNMENT

CENTRAL & EASTERN EUROPE
BANKING CRISIS II
RISK REVERSAL

COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE

CREDIT CONTRACTION II

RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE - PHASE II
EXPIRATION FINANCIAL CRISIS PROGRAM
US FISCAL IMBALANCES
PENSION CRISIS
CHINA BUBBLE
CHRONIC UNEMPLOYMENT
INTEREST PAYMENTS
US PUBLIC POLICY MISCUES
JAPAN DEBT DEFLATION SPIRAL
US RESERVE CURRENCY.
GOVERNMENT BACKSTOP INSURANCE
SHRINKING REVENUE GROWTH RATE
FINANCE & INSURANCE WRITE-DOWNS
RETAIL SALES
CORPORATE BANKRUPTCIES
US DOLLAR WEAKNESS
GLOBAL OUTPUT GAP
CONFIDENCE - SOCIAL UNREST
ENTITLEMENT CRISIS
IRAN NUCLEAR THREAT
OIL PRICE PRESSURES
FOOD PRICE PRESSURES
US STOCK MARKET VALUATIONS
PANDEMIC
US$ RESERVE CURRENCY
TERRORIST EVENT
NATURAL DISASTER

 

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Gordon T Long is not a registered advisor and does not give investment advice. His comments are an expression of opinion only and should not be construed in any manner whatsoever as recommendations to buy or sell a stock, option, future, bond, commodity or any other financial instrument at any time. While he believes his statements to be true, they always depend on the reliability of his own credible sources. Of course, we recommend that you consult with a qualified investment advisor, one licensed by appropriate regulatory agencies in your legal jurisdiction, before making any investment decisions, and barring that, we encourage you confirm the facts on your own before making important investment commitments.

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© Copyright 2010, Gordon T Long. The information herein was obtained from sources which the Gordon T Long. believes reliable, but we do not guarantee its accuracy. None of the information, advertisements, website links, or any opinions expressed constitutes a solicitation of the purchase or sale of any securities or commodities. Please note that the Gordon T Long. or its principals may already have invested or may from time to time invest in securities that are recommended or otherwise covered on this website. Gordon T Long does not intend to disclose the extent of any current holdings or future transactions with respect to any particular security. You should consider this possibility before investing in any security based upon statements and information contained in any report, post, comment or recommendation you receive from us.