Gordon T Long

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PRESERVE & PROTECT: Mapping the Tipping Points

The economic news has turned decidedly negative globally and a sense of ‘quiet before the storm’ permeates the financial headlines. Arcane subjects such as a Hindenburg Omen now make mainline news. The retail investor continues to flee the equity markets and in concert with the institutional players relentlessly pile into the perceived safety of yield instruments, though they are outrageously expensive by any proven measure. Like trying to buy a pump during a storm flood, people are apparently willing to pay any price.  As a sailor it feels like the ominous period where the crew is fastening down the hatches and preparing for the squall that is clearly on the horizon. Few crew mates are talking as everyone is checking preparations for any eventuality. Are you prepared?

 

What if this is not a squall but a tropical storm, or even a hurricane? Unlike sailors the financial markets do not have the forecasting technology to protect it from such a possibility. Good sailors before today’s technology advancements avoided this possibility through the use of almanacs, shrewd observation of the climate and common sense. It appears to this old salt that all three are missing in today’s financial community.

 

Looking through the misty haze though, I can see the following clearly looming on the horizon.

Since President Nixon took the US off the Gold standard in 1971 the increase in global fiat currency has been nothing short of breath taking. It has grown unchecked and inevitably became unhinged from world industrial production and the historical creators of real tangible wealth.  READ MORE

 

Do you believe trees grow to the sky?

Or, is it you believe you are smart enough to get out before this graph crashes?

   

 

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

 


READER ROADMAP -  2010 TIPPING POINTS aid to positioning COMMENTARY

 

 

 

POSTS:  WEEKEND 08-28-10

Last Update: 08/30/2010 05:18 AM

SCHEDULE: 1st Pass: 5:30AM EST, 2nd Pass: 8:00 AM, 3rd Pass 10:30

ARTICLE SOURCE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
                       
Greek government to kill off payouts to dead claimants Guardian UK X                  
CDS On Spanish Banks Widen As Country May Need To Return $6 Billion In Taxes BI X                  
BOJ mulls emergency meeting early next week - source Reuters X                  
Japan Yen Intervention May Fail Without U.S., European Union Coordination Bloomberg X                  
Forget The Q2 GDP Revision -- It's The Q3 Number That Everyone's Really Scared About Now BI X                  
US GDP revised sharply lower FT X                  
U.S. Warfare Boosted Q2 GDP Massively BI X                  
JPM Says "Disastrous" Durable Goods Number Sets Stage For Sub-1% Q3 GDP Print Zero Hedge X                  
Investors flee Treasurys on Bernanke's remarks AP     X              
The Elusive Canadian Housing Bubble - Summer 2010 A Pestov                 X  
The Facts about the Canadian Mortgage Banking System CAP.org                 X  
Thousands seeking help with mortgages jam Palm Beach County Convention Center Palm Beach Post                 X  
Housing's new nightmare CNNMoney                 X  
                       
ARTICLE SOURCE 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
                       
An Autopsy of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Economix     X              
An M&A Spree Is Ahead Because Companies Are Earning Squat With Their Cash BI       X            
USA Today cuts 9% of staff CNN       X            
                       
REMAINING                      
Weak Consumer Demand Forces Intel To Cut Guidance, Stock Wavers BI                   24
Who Rules America Phil's Stock                   27
Food production- Agriculture wars FT                   34
                       
                       
BP OIL                      
                       
GENERAL INTEREST - JACKSON HOLE                      
The Economic Outlook and Monetary Policy - Ben Bernanke Speech Federal  Rerserve Bd                    
Bernanke- The Economic Outlook and Monetary Policy Calcu. Risk                    
Analysis- Bernanke paves the way for QE2 Calcul. Risk                    
Gavyn Davies- Bernanke is neutral, with dovish tinges FT                    
Savers Pay U.S. Banks to Keep Cash as Rates Dip, Fees Multiply Bloomberg                    
Professor Leads Austrian Economics Revival WSJ                    
FLASH CRASH                      
                       
MARKET WARNINGS                    
Goldman's Technical Update- Bearish, With An "Ultimate H&S Target Of 900" Goldman Sachs                    
Retail investors resist siren call of equities FT                    
GOLD                      
                       
VIDEO TO WATCH                      
Schiff, Ratigan, And Blodget Fix The Economy MSNBC                    
                       

Complete Legend to the Right, Top Items below.
Articles with highlights, graphics and any pertinent analysis found below.
(Note:  Latest re-rankings reflecting "Mapping the Tipping Points" will be reflected tomorrow)

 

1

         

1-SOVEREIGN DEBT

2-EU BANKING CRISIS
3-BOND BUBBLE

4-STATE & LOCAL GOVERNMENT

5-CENTRAL & EASTERN EUROPE
6-BANKING CRISIS II
7-RISK REVERSAL

8-COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE

9-RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE - PHASE II
10-EXPIRATION FINANCIAL CRISIS PROGRAM
11-PENSION CRISIS

12-CHRONIC UNEMPLOYMENT

13-GOVERNMENT BACKSTOP INSUR.
14-CORPORATE BANKRUPTCY

TODAY'S TIPPING POINTS UPDATE

RED ALERT

AMBER ALERT

ACTIVITY

MONITOR

Click to Enlarge





08-28-10

 

 

1- SOVEREIGN DEBT & CREDIT CRISIS

 

SOVEREIGNS

 

 

This is not good!

 

Click to Enlarge

 

GREECE

Greek government to kill off payouts to dead claimants UK Guardian
Greece's fabled culture of honouring the dead has reached new heights with the discovery that the debt-choked country paid hundreds of deceased pensioners retirement payments for decades.Under unprecedented pressure to cut spending and replenish empty state coffers, the socialist government announced it would be putting a stop to the seemingly impossible: dead centenarians receiving handouts
.
  • "We are obliged to announce that some people in this country have been drawing pensions, though they may have died years ago,"

  • Deputy Labour Minister George Koutroumanis.

  • Hundreds of millions of euros are thought to have been unwittingly wasted in payments that were dutifully deposited into bank accounts every month. Of the 500 recipients, aged over 110, more than 300 had died in the past seven years."One pension, for example, was paid to someone who had died in 1999," said Koutroumanis.

    Prime Minister George Papandreou's government, which recently completed the first ever census of civil servants, admits it has no idea of the real number of public employees.

    In addition to:
    1- bogus pensions,
    2- billions of euros are believed to have been lost within a leaky state system riddled with scams such as fake jobs,
    3- forged health prescriptions and
    4- fraudulent government spending in the form of supplies to hospitals and state organisations.

     

    SPAIN

    CDS On Spanish Banks Widen As Country May Need To Return $6 Billion In Taxes  BI
    Spanish bank CDS has started to widen in the past few days as concerns over the sovereign's stability have increased.These concerns kicked off with all the recent problems in Ireland, but rose to be Spain specific yesterday after it emerged the Spanish government may have to return $6 billion in sales taxes to consumers.The government has denied they will have to return said funds, even though a court ruling said the $6 billion would have to be returned over a three year period.Now Spanish banks are widening as a result of this news and ongoing worries about the European recovery.   From CMA Datavision

    :

     

    JAPAN

    BOJ mulls emergency meeting early next week - source Reuters
    Japan Yen Intervention May Fail Without U.S., European Union Coordination BL

     

     

    USA

     

     

     

    GDP REVISIONS

     

     

    Forget The Q2 GDP Revision -- It's The Q3 Number That Everyone's Really Scared About Now  BI

     

    1- Roubini recently came out and said it will be closer to 0% than 1%.
    2- David Rosenberg believes we'll actually get a negative print.
    3- JPMorgan also doubts the number will hit 1%.
    4- Deutsche Bank, which has been on the very bullish end of the street recently lowered its estimate to 2%.

     

     

     

    US GDP revised sharply lower  FT

     

    Ed McKelvey, Goldman Sachs economist, notes that “troubling” signs are ahead for the third quarter, pointing to plunging residential real estate investment and risks that business spending will stall. Meanwhile, the housing sector and local government spending, which helped to support second-quarter growth, appear set to decline in the second half of the year.

    Imports were also propelled by an unusually large shipments from China, which reflected a change in Chinese export duties. That was a temporary boost, argued Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC, who said the shift in Chinese policy encouraged exporters there to “clear the docks” and that in the third quarter trade could end up boosting America’s GDP rather than being a drag.  Still, stiff headwinds remain for the US economy and a string of grim indicators during the summer suggest spending by consumers and businesses is softening as labour market woes persist and confidence wavers. “There’s no way the US is going to sustain this type of import surge because the demand is not there,” said Nigel Gault, chief US economist at IHS Global Insight.

     

    U.S. Warfare Boosted Q2 GDP Massively  BI

     

    Yesterday we highlighted how over half of Q2's 1.6% GDP growth could be explained by government spending. The government contributed +0.86% to the Q2 figure based on data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). You can see how Q2 GDP growth was unusually reliant on government spending here.  As a follow up to that post, we've now broken out the different types of government contributions to Q2 GDP, and it turns out that defense spending was a massive component, accounting for +0.39% of the total 0.86% government GDP contribution. Meanwhile, state consumption actually fell, sub tracing 0.10% from US GDP growth. You can see the breakdown below. Note that the numbers don't add up to precisely 0.86% due to rounding. All data is from the BEA.

    So a large part of Q2 GDP performance, +0.39% compared to the 1.6% total GDP growth for the U.S., was thanks to wars and general defense.

     

     

    JPM Says "Disastrous" Durable Goods Number Sets Stage For Sub-1% Q3 GDP Print  ZH

    Fresh from the presses by JPM's Michael Feroli: "The July durable goods report was a major disappointment and raises the risk that third quarter GDP growth prints below 1%...The downshift in the pace of capital spending is particularly worrying as this was the strongest, most reliable sector of the economy over the past year...Inventories at manufacturers of durable goods increased $1.8 billion in July, well below the $3.3 billion average increase in stocks over the prior three months--another factor which lends downside risk to Q3 GDP growth."

     

     

    Click to Enlarge

     

     

     

    2- EU BANKING CRISIS

       

     

    3- BOND BUBBLE

     

    Investors flee Treasurys on Bernanke's remarks AP

    “The low in yields is done for a while.  This was a pretty significant sell-off."

     

    4- STATE & LOCAL GOVERNMENT

     


    5- CENTRAL & EASTERN EUROPE

     


    6-BANKING CRISIS II

     

     

    7- RISK REVERSAL

     

     

    8- COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE

     

     

    9-RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE - PHASE II

     


    CANADA
    The Elusive Canadian Housing Bubble - Summer 2010  

    The Facts about the Canadian Mortgage Banking System CAP



     

    Thousands seeking help with mortgages jam Palm Beach County Convention Center Palm Beach Post

     

     

    More than 50,000 people are expected to attend the five-day, around-the-clock event, said Bruce Marks, the CEO of the Boston-based NACA. Considering many people come in pairs, that could mean as many as 25,000 home loans will be worked on by the army of NACA counselors, who wear yellow T-shirts bearing the NACA slogan: "Loan Sharks Beware." During the group's visit to West Palm Beach in February, NACA reviewed 24,000 loans, modifying, at least temporarily, 16,097.NACA brings hundreds of bank representatives to its "Save the Dream Tour" events. Borrowers first meet with a NACA counselor to settle on an affordable mortgage payment, typically something that is 31 percent or less than their gross salary. NACA also gets a $500 payment for every permanent modification that results in three successful mortgage payments, Marks said.

     

    Housing's new nightmare CNN

    Some 3.51% of borrowers were 30 days late in their loan payments in the second quarter, up from 3.31% at the end of last year, according to new data from the Mortgage Bankers Association. The shift is a stark reversal from the steady decline in short-term delinquencies during 2009.

     

     

    10- EXPIRATION FINANCIAL CRISIS PROGRAM

     

     

    11- PENSION & ENTITLEMENTS CRISIS



    12- CHRONIC UNEMPLOYMENT



    13- GOVERNMENT BACKSTOP INSURANCE

     

    An Autopsy of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Economix

     

    14- CORPORATE BANKRUPTCIES

     

    An M&A Spree Is Ahead Because Companies Are Earning Squat With Their Cash  BI

     

    We've seen a burst of M&A activity lately, with high-profile potential deals such as Intel and Mcafee, BHP and Potash, or Dell (HP?) and 3PAR. Once M&A heats up, investors' knee-jerk reaction is to speculate on further potential deals, and to determine whether or not a wave of further M&A activity is ahead, it helps to consider why companies might be keen to each other out right now.

    Citi's Tobias Levkovich raises some key points on this in a new note. Essentially, he highlights that:

    A) Shell-shocked companies have progressively de-leveraged their balance sheets lately, thus have more capacity to make deals than in a long time.
    B) Thanks to low interest rates, companies are earning very little off of their cash balances, which provides an incentive to put money to work.

    And we'll add one more...

    C) In a sluggish economy, business expansion is a risky and  difficult proposition, thus buying established companies can be a easier path to growth.

    Thus, the idea of an upcoming M&A wave isn't that crazy considering companies' alternatives right now -- Earning nothing on a growing and historically under-leveraged balance sheet (we're talking non-financial companies here) or investing in uncharted businesses opportunities while the economic outlook is uncertain.

    (Chart via Tobias Levkovich, Citi, Hey There's M&A, 23 August 2010)

     


    USA Today cuts 9% of staff CNN



     


    OTHER TIPPING POINT CATEGORIES NOT LISTED ABOVE

     

    24-RETAIL SALES

    Weak Consumer Demand Forces Intel To Cut Guidance, Stock Wavers  BI
    Intel now expects third-quarter revenue to be $11.0 billion, plus or minus $200 million, compared to the previous expectation of between $11.2 and $12.0 billion. In a statement, the company says "Revenue is being affected by weaker than expected demand for consumer PCs in mature markets." Just a few weeks ago, Intel said things were looking good. Clearly, the turndown has been since then.

    In a similar sign of macroeconomic distress, tech giant Cisco posted a Q2 miss earlier this August

     

    27-CONFIDENCE - SOCIAL UNREST

    Who Rules America  Phil's Stock World

     

    31-FOOD PRICE PRESSURES

    Food production- Agriculture wars  FT

    Crop pressures intensifies battle for fertiliser group PotashCorp




    BP - British Petroleum

    SULTANS OF SWAP: BP Potentially More Devastating then Lehman!

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

     






     

    GENERAL INTEREST

     

     

    JACKSON HOLE
    The Economic Outlook and Monetary Policy - Ben Bernanke Speech FRB

    Jackson Hole Wyoming

    I believe that additional purchases of longer-term securities, should the FOMC choose to undertake them, would be effective in further easing financial conditions. However, the expected benefits of additional stimulus from further expanding the Fed’s balance sheet would have to be weighed against potential risks and costs. One risk of further balance sheet expansion arises from the fact that, lacking much experience with this option, we do not have very precise knowledge of the quantitative effect of changes in our holdings on financial conditions. In particular, the impact of securities purchases may depend to some extent on the state of financial markets and the economy; for example, such purchases seem likely to have their largest effects during periods of economic and financial stress, when markets are less liquid and term premiums are unusually high. The possibility that securities purchases would be most effective at times when they are most needed can be viewed as a positive feature of this tool. However, uncertainty about the quantitative effect of securities purchases increases the difficulty of calibrating and communicating policy responses.

    Another concern associated with additional securities purchases is that substantial further expansions of the balance sheet could reduce public confidence in the Fed’s ability to execute a smooth exit from its accommodative policies at the appropriate time. Even if unjustified, such a reduction in confidence might lead to an undesired increase in inflation expectations

     

    Bernanke- The Economic Outlook and Monetary Policy  Calculated Risk

     

    Analysis- Bernanke paves the way for QE2 Calculated Risk

     
    Summary: I think Bernanke is paving the way for QE2, although he probably feels he needs more evidence of a slowing economy or further disinflation to persuade other members of the FOMC. A warning from a large tecWSJh company is probably significant at this point, like from MarketWatch: Intel cuts sales forecast citing weaker consumer PC market
    "Revenue is being affected by weaker than expected demand for consumer PCs in mature markets," the company said in a statement.
    Or perhaps the unemployment rate ticking up in the August employment report next Friday might be enough. There will be plenty of data released before the September 21 FOMC meeting (and if the data is weaker, the meeting might be expanded to two days). Or perhaps the FOMC will wait until November, but it does appears Bernanke is preparing everyone for QE2.

     

    Gavyn Davies- Bernanke is neutral, with dovish tinges  FT

    The much awaited speech was largely a holding operation

     

     

    Savers Pay U.S. Banks to Keep Cash as Rates Dip, Fees Multiply BL
    The average interest paid on savings, checking, money-market and certificate of deposit accounts fell to 0.99 percent in July, the first dip below 1 percent in a decade

     

    Professor Leads Austrian Economics Revival  WSJ

     
    Mr. Hayek's 1944 classic, "The Road to Serfdom," became the top-selling book in June on Amazon.com. The Austrian think tank Foundation for Economic Education had to turn students away this summer from its overflowing seminars.

    FLASH CRASH - HFT - DARK POOLS

     

     

    MARKET WARNINGS

    Goldman's Technical Update- Bearish, With An "Ultimate H&S Target Of 900"  ZH

     

     

    Retail investors resist siren call of equities  FT

     
    Retail investors are resisting the siren call of bullish Wall Street equity analysts and high dividend paying stocks as they keep pumping money into bonds, contributing to the lowest stock trading volumes for August in more than a decade.  “The amount of money being pulled from equities is very disturbing and without question retail has given up on the market,” says Anthony Conroy, head of trading at BNY ConvergEx.

    This year, investors have withdrawn about $22bn from equity funds globally, EPFR says. There has been a stampede out of US stock funds where outflows total $51bn. That has been counterbalanced by purchases of emerging market equities where inflows have totalled about $37bn. Money pulled from shares is being pumped into bonds

    The erosion of support for US equities from retail investors threatens the business of trading on Wall Street. This month, average trading volume for S&P 500 stocks has been the lowest since August 1999, according to Bespoke Investment Group.

    “The investing public is sceptical and rightly so,” says William Strazzullo, chief market strategist at Bell Curve Trading. “It’s no surprise that people are staying away from stocks. There has been an accumulation of blows from Bernie Madoff, the financial crisis, bail-out of Wall St and flash crash that feeds into a perception, rightly or wrongly, that the game is rigged.”

     

    GOLD MANIPULATION

     

     

    VIDEO TO WATCH

    Schiff, Ratigan, And Blodget Fix The Economy  MSNBC

     

     

     

     

    QUOTE OF THE WEEK

     

    To paraphrase Oscar Wilde

    Investors know the price of everything but the value of nothing.


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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.ont>

     

    © 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

    WEEKEND

    08-28-10

    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


    TIPPING POINTS

    1-SOVEREIGN DEBT & CREDIT CRISIS

    2-EU BANKING CRISIS
    3-BOND BUBBLE

    4-STATE & LOCAL GOVERNMENT

    5-CENTRAL & EASTERN EUROPE
    6-BANKING CRISIS II
    7-RISK REVERSAL

    8-COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE

    9-RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE - PHASE II
    10-EXPIRATION FINANCIAL CRISIS PROGRAM
    11-PENSION CRISIS

    12-CHRONIC UNEMPLOYMENT

    13-GOVERNMENT BACKSTOP INSUR.
    14-CORPORATE BANKRUPTCY
     

    15-CREDIT CONTRACTION II

    16-US FISCAL IMBALANCES
    17-CHINA BUBBLE
    18-INTEREST PAYMENTS
    19-US PUBLIC POLICY MISCUES
    20-JAPAN DEBT DEFLATION SPIRAL
    21-US RESERVE CURRENCY.
    22-SHRINKING REVENUE GROWTH RATE
    23-FINANCE & INSURANCE WRITE-DOWNS
    24-RETAIL SALES
    25-US DOLLAR WEAKNESS
    26-GLOBAL OUTPUT GAP
    27-CONFIDENCE - SOCIAL UNREST
    28-ENTITLEMENT CRISIS
    29-IRAN NUCLEAR THREAT
    30-OIL PRICE PRESSURES
    31-FOOD PRICE PRESSURES
    32-US STOCK MARKET VALUATIONS
    33-PANDEMIC
    34-S$ RESERVE CURRENCY
    35-TERRORIST EVENT
    36-NATURAL DISASTER

     

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    Book Review- Five Thumbs Up for Steve Greenhut's Plunder!  Mish

     

     

       

     

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