Gordon T Long

RESEARCH ANALYTICS for the GLOBAL MACRO

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"SULTANS OF SWAP"

 

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Sultans of Swap: Smoking Guns!

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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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INNOVATION: What Made America Great is now Killing Her!

 

 

 

What made America great was her unsurpassed ability to innovate.  Equally important was also her ability to rapidly adapt to the change that this innovation fostered. For decades the combination has been a self reinforcing growth dynamic with innovation offering a continuously improving standard of living and higher corporate productivity levels, which the US quickly embraced and adapted to.

 

This in turn financed further innovation. No country in the world could match the American culture that flourished on technology advancements in all areas of human endeavor. However, something serious and major has changed across America.  Daily, more and more are becoming acutely aware of this, but few grasp exactly what it is.  It is called Creative Destruction. 

 

It turns out that what made America great is now killing her!

 

Our political leaders are presently addressing what they perceive as an intractable cyclical recovery problem when in fact it is a structural problem that is secular in nature. Like generals fighting the last war with outdated perceptions, we face a new and daunting challenge. A challenge that needs to be addressed with the urgency and scope of a Marshall plan that saved Europe from the ravages of a different type of destruction. We need a modern US centric Marshall plan focused on growth, but orders of magnitude larger than the one in the 1940’s. A plan even more brash than Kennedy’s plan in the 60’s to put a man of the moon by the end of the decade. America needs to again think and act boldly. First however, we need to see the enemy. As the great philosopher Pogo said: “I saw the enemy and it was I”.

READ MORE

 

 

SULTANS OF SWAP: Gold Swaps Signal the Roadmap Ahead

 

SLIDE REFERENCE PAGE: Shadow Banking

 

The news rocked the global gold market when an almost obscure line item in the back of a 216 page document released by an equally obscure organization was recently unearthed. Thrust into the unwanted glare of the spotlight, the little publicized Bank of International Settlements (BIS) is discovered to have accepted 349 metric tons of gold in a $14B swap. Why? With whom? For what duration? How long has this been going on? This raises many questions and as usual with all $617T of murky unregulated swaps, we are given zero answers. It is none of our business!

Considering the US taxpayer is bearing the burden of $13T in lending, spending and guarantees for the financial crisis, and an additional $600B of swaps from the US Federal Reserve to stem the European Sovereign Debt crisis, some feel that more transparency is merited. It is particularly disconcerting, since the crisis was a direct result of unsound banking practices and possibly even felonious behavior. The arrogance and lack of public accountability of the entire banking industry blatantly demonstrates why gold manipulation, which came to the fore in recent CFTC hearings, has been able to operate so effectively for so long. It operates above the law or more specifically above sovereign law in the un-policed off-shore, off-balance sheet zone of international waters.

Since President Richard Nixon took the US off the Gold standard in 1971, transparency regarding anything to do with gold sales, leasing, storage or swaps is as tightly guarded by governments as the unaudited gold holdings of Fort Knox. Before we delve into answering what this swap may be all about and what it possibly means to gold investors, we need to start with the most obvious question and one that few seem to ask. Who is this Bank of International Settlements and who controls it?

READ MORE

 


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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
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CHINA BUBBLE

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POSTS:  TUESDAY 08-17-10

 

 

GEO-POLITICAL TENSIONS - ISRAEL / KOREA / IRAN

 

IRAN

 

ISRAEL

Israel won`t be the first to attack Iran: Fidel Castro   Mathaba

 

KOREA 

 

SOVEREIGN DEBT & CREDIT CRISIS

 

Debt Virus Spreads After Make-Believe Recovery BL  Lynn
The fevered predictions of the early summer that the euro was doomed, and that Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis would rip through countries such as Spain and Portugal like a virus, have been forgotten. The crisis appears to be over. Don’t believe it...

GREECE

 

SPAIN / PORTUGAL

 

FRANCE

 

GERMANY

 

ITALY

 

UK

Tough targets for benefit reforms  FT

Treasury sets Duncan Smith tight financial conditions

Showdown looms over benefit reform

 

 

UK Government debt rally 'unlikely to last' Telegraph

 

JAPAN

Nearly 80% of firms predict slowdown: poll Kyodo

CHINA

China reduces holdings of Treasury debt in June AP Treasury

China Cuts Long-Term Treasury Holdings by Most Ever as U.S. Yields Decline  BL

 

USA

U.S. Producer Prices Climb First Time Since March, Cut Deflation Concern BL

BLSModest rebound in Empire State Index for August MW NYFED

Voters Back Tough Steps to Reduce Deficit  WSJ

Frustrated voters, fixing on the $1.5 trillion federal deficit as a symbol of Washington's paralysis, appear increasingly willing to take drastic steps to address the red ink.

"It's a brutal predicament for politicians because the rhetoric of deficit cutting is enormously popular, but the details are incredibly unpopular,"
said Matt Bennett, a vice president at the Democratic group Third Way, which has polled extensively on the issue.

"Folks want to cut the deficit, but they say, 'Don't touch my Social Security. Don't touch my Medicare. Don't cut defense spending, and don't raise my taxes,"' said Rep. Gary C. Peters (D, Mich.), another member of the House budget-cutting task force. "This is going to take courage."

 

EU BANKING CRISIS

   

 

BOND BUBBLE

 

Are “Safe Assets” In Short Supply? Hahn

The Global Economy Has Investors Buying Bonds NBR Transcript

NG Weekly

 Bonds: Nobody wants to fight the Fed LaMonica T-Yields Sink

STATE & LOCAL GOVERNMENT

 

A Fight Over City Hall—Literally WSJ
A financial firm is fighting City Hall—and angling to take over the building. Buena Vista, Va., borrowed money to refinance a golf course and pledged its City Hall as collateral. Now the city says it can't pay its debt.


CENTRAL & EASTERN EUROPE

 

 

HUNGARY

 

BANKING CRISIS II

 

Fed survey finds easier business lending standards AP

FED

 

Banks Ease Lending Standards  WSJ
Alack of improvement in demand for loans among consumers and businesses indicates that even modestly looser standards—alongside historically low interest rates—aren't enough to spur stronger economic activity.

 

My business banking colleagues tell me the demand is just not there. Article's conclusion may be premature.  WSJ

 

Did Mediocre Q2 Bank Earnings FINALLY Light The Spark For Increased Lending In The US  BI

Mike O'Rourke of BTIG theorizes as to what's going on: basically it's a response to mediocre earnings and the rapidly compressing yield curve (which makes the lend-to-the-government play less and less profitable).

What we believe is happening here is that banks are begrudgingly being forced back into banking by the market and investors.  Think about when Q2 earnings season commenced last month, the banks set the tone with revenue misses on the top line as earnings beat on the bottom line.  We would speculate that the banks will likely be punished again if they don’t exhibit improvement in coming quarters.  The key problem during Q2 was the weakness of the capital markets business.  It is safe to say that business has not picked up here in Q3. Investor’s don’t want to see these institutions operate as if they are in runoff mode not replenishing maturing loans with new ones, leading to that shrinking C&I chart depicted below.  Likewise the banks can only use conservatism and prudence as a mantra for so long while they are releasing credit reserves, and keeping a $1 Trillion parked at the Fed for emergencies.    In addition it is highly likely credit written here in 2010 is likely to be among the best vintages in a very long time.  Instead of writing new loans the banks have been providing financing to the U.S. Government and the GSE’s by purchasing Treasuries and Agency MBS (Chart 4). 

Hiding behind securities backed by the U.S. Government,  explicitly and implicitly has been the “safe” way for banks to earn during the early stages of the recovery.  As is clearly obvious, as these yields continue to compress the risk reward ratio will actually shift in favor of lending to a business for an actual spread rather than parking in 2 year Treasuries for less than 50 basis points.  Finally, one last data point form the Fed Survey is that 22.6% of banks have increased their willingness to make consumer installment loans.  Similar to the case for business lending the demand is not there yet.  It is lagging business demand, but it is moving in the direction where it can stabilize in the coming months.

chart

 

 

Economics: The Fed should ask for fiscal policy support | The Economist

THE next move for the Fed, a long overdue one in my view, should be to announce that the US is afflicted with a balance sheet recession, a rare disease that strikes only after the bursting of a nationwide debt-financed asset price bubble. With its asset prices collapsing while its liabilities remain, the private sector is forced to deleverage or minimise debt even with zero interest rates in order to repair its battered balance sheets. The Fed should explain that in this type of recession, monetary policy is largely ineffective because those with negative equity are not interested in increasing borrowings at any interest rate. The Fed’s continued failure to explain the exact nature of the disease only increases the public’s expectations for monetary policy which could lead to a big disappointment later with an equally serious loss of credibility for the central bank.

Moreover, during balance sheet recessions the effectiveness of monetary policy actually depends on the government’s fiscal policy. This is because when the private sector is deleveraging, money supply shrinks as bank deposits are withdrawn to pay down debt. The only way to keep money supply from shrinking is for the public sector to borrow money. Indeed the US money supply grew after 1933, following the worst balance sheet recession in history, precisely because of government’s New Deal borrowings. Japan’s money supply never contracted after 1990 in spite of massive private sector deleveraging, also because of government borrowings.

Admitting the limitations of monetary policy, however, is difficult for those who are trained to think that fiscal policy is bad while monetary policy is almighty, the kind of thinking that dominated the academic world for the last three decades. As a result, there have been numerous proposals for unconventional monetary policy, such as quantitative easing, that are nothing more than acts of desperation. But with the private sector minimising debt, there is no reason for such policies to work, as the Bank of Japan found out 10 years ago, and as the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England are finding out today.

To make the confusion worse, balance sheet recession is typically associated with a credit crunch, because bankers themselves are faced with huge balance sheet challenges. When bankers are not lending money, however, most commentators and politicians argue that the central bank is not doing enough with its monetary policy. But the banker’s problem is not lack of liquidity; their problem is lack of capital. And only government can inject capital into banks to end the credit crunch. In other words, it is fiscal policy, not monetary policy that can end the credit crunch.

It is encouraging to note that in recent testimonies, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke has insisted that now is not the time to cut fiscal stimulus. It will be even better if he comes out and explains to the public why fiscal stimulus is crucial during a balance sheet recession, even for the conduct of monetary policy.

 

DODD FRANK ACT

 The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act: The Triumph of Crony Capitalism (Part 3)

Regulation of Derivatives and ABS

Recall that one of the major themes behind the Act is that the “murky” world of “exotic” instruments such as credit default swaps and asset backed securities (ABS) added unacceptable risk to the financial system. The goal of the Act is to provide “transparency” and “accountability” for those engaged in such instruments.

The SEC and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) will regulate derivative markets. The CFTC is involved because they regulate the futures and options markets which are included within definition of “derivatives.”

The new rules:
  • Require securitizers of ABS to maintain 5% of the credit risk in assets transferred, sold, or conveyed through the issuance of ABS … The new rules must allocate the risk retention obligation between securitizers and originators. The retained risk may not be hedged. [The “skin in the game” rule.]
  • Banks must spin off “riskier” swaps dealing activities but can still conduct such activities through separately capitalized affiliates.
  • All standardized swaps must be cleared and exchange-traded.
  • End users [i.e., those who use derivatives for actual commercial hedging purposes] are exempt from the clearing requirement …
  • The banking regulators, the SEC and the CFTC, will set margin and capital requirements for uncleared swaps.
  • Security-based swap dealers and major security-based swap participants will be required to comply with SEC-prescribed business conduct standards. … [They] will have a duty to communicate with counterparties in a fair and balanced manner based on principles of fair dealing and good faith and other standards and requirements prescribed by the SEC. [If you read The Big Short, you might say that this is the “Goldman Sachs Rule.”]
  • It imposes new liability on securitizers for the underlying mortgages originated by third parties.

The Wall Street Journal ran an article exploring the world of farmers and futures contracts. Farmers rely on forward contracts to hedge their risks. What was interesting is the conclusion of the article: “There is no real understanding if the Act will exempt, say farmers who use futures as a hedge, or make it more difficult for them to hedge.”

RATING AGENCIES

 The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act: The Triumph of Crony Capitalism (Part 3)

Office of Credit Ratings

To regulate credit rating agencies, a new Office of Credit Ratings is established. The most significant outcome of the Act is that investors are allowed to sue the rating agencies. They are now treated like other “experts” such as lawyers and accountants and are subject to the same liabilities.

There are basically only three credit rating agencies, Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s Investor Service, and Fitch Ratings. They are referred to as Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organizations (NRSROs) under the Act. These private companies are sanctioned by the SEC and the Treasury to give credit ratings. A kind of monopoly if you will. Basically you can’t sell a security to the public without a rating from one of these companies.

When the rating agencies figured out what the legislation was doing to them, they promptly notified their clients that they couldn’t use their ratings in ABS securities registrations. That apparently put a halt to the ABS market and caused Ford to pull a pending offering. This caused the SEC to postpone the rules for six months until they figure out what to do.

This rule is actually a good thing in my opinion within the current regulatory structure. The failures of the rating agencies were part of the problem with the mortgage backed securities market. It is apparent that it wasn’t just that they didn’t understand the risk involved, rather they ignored it. If a lawyer gave an opinion that caused investors to lose money because of the lawyer’s negligence, the lawyer gets sued. Why not the rating agencies?

 

RISK REVERSAL

 

 

COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE

 

 

RRESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE - PHASE II

 

Housing Starts in U.S. Increased Less Than Forecast in July BL PDF

 

Boston Fed: Economics Couldn’t Reveal Housing Bubble WSJ

'Ponzi borrowers' at risk in property Australian
Housing bubble trouble for the middle class SMH

Homebuilder Confidence Sinks for 3rd Month Amid Struggling Economy AP
Canadian home sales sink 30% G&M
Your House Might Be Underwater for Years BL
Rebounds in housing have typically been driven by declines in mortgage rates. Not this time.  

How Low Can Mortgage Rates Go?
Housing Ills Cloud Debate on Fannie WSJ
Why Santelli is right, and wrong, about housing Salmon

 

FT interactive graphic explores the peaks and troughs of global house prices by nation since 2004  FT

 

US house mortgage arrears mount  FT

Policymakers to meet on housing finance

In the average congressional district, serious mortgage delinquency rates – defined as borrowers more than three months behind on their payments – are 9.4 per cent, compared to 3.3 per cent at the time of the election in 2008, according to a study by Deutsche Bank.

“That pace of deterioration alone should put housing and mortgage finance on most political radars,” said Steven Abrahams, managing director at Deutsche.

The pain remains concentrated in states such as Florida, California and Nevada. More than one in five borrowers are at least three months overdue on their mortgage payments in 23 congressional districts – including 13 in Florida, six in California and two in Nevada.

 

EXPIRATION FINANCIAL CRISIS PROGRAM

 

 

PENSION & ENTITLEMENTS CRISIS


The Next Pension Bailout WS
New momentum to dump union retirement burdens on taxpayers.

CHRONIC UNEMPLOYMENT


Who Benefited from Globalization?

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” – Mark Twain

From the time that Bill Clinton signed the NAFTA agreement in 1994, globalization has been touted by those in power as beneficial to all Americans. How could free markets and free trade be a bad thing? Corporate America, Wall Street, and the mainstream corporate media have blared the propaganda of globalization benefits from their loudspeakers. In theory, globalization appears to be a positive concept. It describes a process by which regional economies, societies, and cultures have become integrated through a global network of communication, transportation, and trade. The truth is that globalization is not inherently good or inherently bad. The idea is that each country has its own strengths and weaknesses. Each country will take advantage of their strengths and rely on other countries to help mitigate their weaknesses. This will result in increased trade, a larger world market, and economic progress for all. One small problem. Trade is not really free. Every country on earth protects various industries. Every country on earth manipulates their currency in order to get an edge. Every country on earth invokes tariffs to protect their national interests.


GOVERNMENT BACKSTOP INSURANCE

 

 

CORPORATE BANKRUPTCIES

 

Ending The "Cash On The Sidelines" Fallacy (Redux)  ZH

A chart, via Nomura, that shows, as simplistically as possible, that even as corporate cash is at all time highs, corporate debt is just below all time records (and the recent decline in gross debt has only occurred courtesy of banks pushing up stock prices to artificially high levels, which has afforded many with equity refis opportunities to pay down existing debt, as well as asset dispositions). In other words, and this goes to shut up all those "cash on the sidelines" chatterboxes, net debt has barely declined from all time records.

In a nutshell: total debt of over $7 trillion versus total cash of $2.6 trillion is still close to the highest net debt gearing in history.

This simply means that firms are increasingly reducing their reliance on traditionally "safe" (but certainly not any longer now that the Fed is actively involved in centralized planning) ultrashort term credit funding markets such as ABCP and other evaporating shadow banking sources of liquidity, and are eliminating counterparty risk as they keep the required operating cash on their own books.

Thus the cash on the sidelines is anything but: in practice what is happening is corporations are now their own banks and providers of their own near-zero maturity liquidity!

All those who hope that this $2.6 trillion in cash will make it into the wider economy, absent a massive concurrent deleveraging (which won't happen absent stocks moving a new step higher) are in for a rude awakening.

 

 

BP - British Petroleum

SULTANS OF SWAP: BP Potentially More Devastating then Lehman!

------------

 

BP raises $5bn in loans from oil revenue  FT

Bid to bolster liquidity following spill in Gulf of Mexico

 

BP Vessel of Opportunity Workers Allege that Oil Is Not Being Cleaned Up During the Day ... Instead, Corexit Is Being Sprayed at Night  ZH

 

Relief Wells Delayed ... New Tests Show "Gap" in Oil "Well Column" Causing Loss of Pressure ... Does the Government Have ANY IDEA What It's Doing  ZH



 

OTHER TIPPING POINT CATEGORIES NOT LISTED ABOVE

The Dollar's Third and Final Act - by Jeff Fisher / Lew Rockwell

The US economy will suffer much more than most expect for several reasons.

1. The US economy has no savings and has had no internally generated savings for at least a decade.

The Dollar has acted as the US economy's pool of savings for two generations. This pool of savings will not be accessible much longer and it will be removed very quickly from the US capital markets. As a result capital will be very scarce and the cost of capital will reveal the malinvestment accumulated since 1980.

2. The structure of the economy is built on services, consumption, and abundant foreign savings. The capital investments are not in place to produce exports, consumer goods, or capital goods.

3. In order for the US economy to become productive, savings will have to soar relative to consumption. Those savings will have to be invested in productive investments. This restructuring of the economy will take a long time. The greatest threat to this adjustment would be persistent government deficits.

4. Government spending will punish the economy unless it is quickly reduced on a scale never seen in US history. If government refuses to contract, the depression will be all the more severe and the economy will become essentially a command economy.

In summary, for the US economy to improve many unlikely things must occur.

Savings must rise, productive capital must be accumulated, government must shrink to a fraction of its present size in real terms, and the Fed must stabilize the Dollar.

In order to see a real recovery in the US economy radical action will need to be taken.

A renaissance in thinking will have to occur.

Centuries ago men realized that for there to be peace, Church and State had to be separated.

In order for civilization to survive going forward, the Market and State must be separated.

The role of government in the economy must be eliminated.

The age of central banks and central planning must end.

 

Founder Of Reaganomics Says That "Without A Revolution, Americans Are History"  ZH

 

FLASH CRASH - HFT - DARK POOLS

 

MARKET WARNINGS

Fooled By Stimulus   Eric Sprott & David Franklin

Cashin: Hindenburg Omen Will Play Out in 3-4 Weeks CNBC
Hindenburg Omen: What a Stock Market Crash Would Mean for the Consumer Sector Street

GOLD MANIPULATION

 

 

VIDEO TO WATCH

 

 

 

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” – Mark Twain

"the recent financial crisis and recession was not caused by high interest rates but by low rates that contributed to excessive debt and leverage among consumers, businesses and government. We need to get off of the emergency rate of zero, move rates up slowly and deliberately. This will align more closely with the economy’s slow, deliberate recovery so that policy does not lag the recovery.

Monetary policy is a useful tool, but it cannot solve every problem faced by the United States today. In trying to use policy as a cure-all, we will repeat the cycle of severe recessionand unemployment in a few short years by keeping rates too low for too long. I wish free money was really free and that there was a painless way to move from severe recession and high leverage to robust and sustainable economic growth, but there is no short cut."

Thoma  Hoenig
Kansas City Federal Reserve President
FULL SPEECH

 


ZH - Zero Hedge - 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

TUESDAY

08-17-10

AUGUST
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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