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  • The Room – 06/12/2009

    Again this week, I was admonished by one of your fellow dear readers, who recommended that I keep my political comments to myself. And furthermore that I, and the entire Casey team, should focus solely on finding the next great investment.

    While I can’t and won’t argue with the latter part of his advice -- that is, after all, our overarching mandate, and a mandate we take seriously - I suspect the real issue is that the political views we occasionally express run contrary to those of the author of this rebuke.

    Even so, if you give the matter any thought at all, you will almost have to conclude that the business of America is now hugely dependent on the business of government.

    As a refresher, the following – compliments of the Encyclopedia of Business – describes the two major foundations economies have typically been built on in modern times: central planning and capitalism....
  • The Room – 06/05/2009

    In this week's edition... Unemployment Falls!...Housing Market Bottoms!... introducing the Special Master for Compensation... Gold Can't Be Beaten... Debt Collapse and Inflation.... Big Banks Buy a Smelly Swamp...do you need Adult Supervision?... Saving Private Brown.... and even more!

    All in this week's edition of The Room... read it now....
  • The Room – 05/22/2009

    A dose of sanity returned to the markets this week, starting with cracks beginning to show in the U.S. dollar. Consequently gold, the not-so-barbaric relic, seems to be attracting an awful lot of attention. Instead of falling, as so many pundits have been predicting it should, it has begun to string together a number of impressive up days. Another run at $1,000 in the weeks just ahead is not out of the question.

    Also this week, the U.S. stock market hit a pothole on the road to Happy Days Again, helped along, apparently, by massive selling by corporate insiders......
  • The Room – 05/01/2009

    I am writing you in some haste this morning, fueled both by what may be an overdose of espresso and a general lack of sleep due to fulfilling my responsibilities as the managing editor of The Casey Report, the final copy deadline for which is inconveniently today.

    In the interest of not being discovered face down on my desk, a spilled cup of coffee dripping onto the floor, I'm going to take a few shortcuts in preparing this week’s edition of The Room. Namely, relying on other members of the Casey team, as well as our impressive ranks of correspondents, to fill in some holes. I think you'll be happy with the result.

    First, however, a quick word or two is in order about the Chrysler bankruptcy. In last week's edition of this somewhat manic missive, I opined that Chrysler’s bankruptcy was now both inevitable and imminent. Further, I wrote about the proceedings, which have the U.S. Treasury deeply involved in structuring the bankruptcy......
  • The Room – 04/17/2009

    Being new to a profession is always a challenge. The neophyte wants to impress his superiors, but lacking experience, is left to rely upon what natural skills he possesses. And, often, will try to make up for any shortcomings in specific skills by displaying a double dose of enthusiasm and energy.

    Our new president, for example, has a great many skills related to successful politicking, but none at all specifically related to the task of being president of the world's most powerful country. This is not a job that one can prepare for.

    And so We the People, his new bosses, are left to observe Obama leaning heavily on his considerable political skills – and his obvious energy – in an attempt to impress.

    He is trying to do so through a constant stream of new pronouncements emanating from the White House, or wherever Mr. Obama happens to be standing at the moment. On one day he wishes to put an end to nuclear weapons, on the next to reach an accommodation with the Iranians. While he’s at it, he'll be (maybe) pulling the troops out of Iraq, but redeploying them into Afghanistan and maybe even Pakistan....
  • The Room – 04/03/2009

    In the March 6, 2009 edition of this missive/blog/column/whatever you want to call it, I listed three 'Desperate Measures' the U.S. government might turn to next in its futile attempt to rearrange the ruined economy into something more resembling a perfect world.

    Suspend 'mark to market' rules. At the time of my initial write-up (which you can read here), highly placed sources within the financial services industry that I spoke to were of the opinion that no significant changes would be made, for the simple reason that to do otherwise would risk destroying what little credibility was left for the financial sector.

    As you now know, the government has strong-armed the FASB into modifying the rules, essentially allowing companies to 'mark to model.' Which simply means that the same financial wizards who helped create the models so pivotal to causing the mess in the first place are now free to dust those models off, give them a little tweak, and use them to fabricate more attractive values for the toxic waste than the market was willing to assign. Some might term these rule changes outrageous, fraud even... I call it business as usual.

    Bad bank. The government has moved forward with this initiative as well, essentially rigging up a system that literally guarantees that a very small handful of firms -- likely just four or five -- will receive the sweetheart deal of the century, at the same time that the U.S. taxpayer gets the short end of the stick... right up the side of the head.

    Fed buys long-term Treasuries. This, too, has now come to pass and is likely to accelerate. While there are many ways that one could describe this latest initiative, I find it best to keep these things simple... it's called inflation....
  • The Room – 03/20/2009

    I worry I shall disappoint you today. After all, how can mere words, pecked out awkwardly on a shaky airplane table, adequately communicate all that has occurred this week?

    As regular readers may guess, the plane I am on is taking me to Las Vegas for our sold-out Crisis & Opportunity Summit. While the event was deliberately scheduled to give the Obama administration an opportunity to reveal its cards after having been handed Bush's busted hand, the timing has turned out to be especially propitious, coming as it is at the end of a week that seems to be of some historic significance.

    Of course, we wish you were joining us here in Las Vegas -- if you aren't -- but as your correspondent, I will certainly include notes from the event in next week's missive. But that is then, and this is now.

    And now, everything is going to hell....
  • The Room – 03/16/2009

    This week I tripped over an old musical favorite, I'm Your Captain, by Grand Funk Railroad, which is what I'm listening to as I begin this weekly missive. While the song has a little rust on it, for those of you who haven't taken a ride on Grand Funk Railroad of late, it's a nice enough trip. Now, on to what seems important this week. This week Vikram Pandit, the CEO of Citigroup, a bank that has managed to lose $38 billion over the last five quarters, sent around an internal memorandum in which he said he was "encouraged" by the company's performance so far in 2009....
  • The Room – 02/20/2009

    We’re going to be flying low and fast in this weekly scan of the landscape in the quest for items that are 'important,' as opposed to 'merely interesting.' At the top of the list of what we would consider important is the increasing likelihood that the wheels are about to come off the global economy. And, worse, fly through the air and wipe out any number of innocent bystanders. (By now, you and the other readers of our services should already be safely in the duck-and-cover position.) It is becoming clear that more than just our subscribers are beginning to understand the depth, severity, and nature of this crisis: as I begin writing this morning, gold has rebounded to just a few ticks away from the $1,000 mark. By the time I am finished today, we could see that mark taken out. More on that topic later, but first......
  • The Room - 01/30/2009

    Like most people, I occasionally find myself overwhelmed by the tasks involved with everyday life. This week, I have been, to use the old adage, 'working like a dog.' Though, now that I think about it, I have a hard time imagining the origin of the term. Even in his youth, my now elderly companion General Beauregard Piddle didn't seem to take on anything more rigorous than climbing up on an unattended couch for a nice nap. In any event, it's been one of 'those' weeks. And so today, as I prepared to write this weekly missive, I found myself groaning, 'Arrgh, I've got to write The Room,' to my ever patient and entirely wonderful wife. 'But,' she said, misunderstanding the nature of my apparent complaint, 'I can't see how that's a problem. There's so much to write about.' 'Exactly!' I said, 'That's the problem!' In actual fact, I almost always look forward to these weekly writings as a form of personal reflection and even entertainment... and as a usual way to keep myself in the flow of the passing parade. But some weeks – most weeks, it seems of late – the sheer volume of important news that I should comment on, at least if I were trying to be a good correspondent, is so staggering in dimension, it is a real challenge to know where to begin. So, instead, I start by writing about old dogs and wonderful wives. Go figure....
  • The Room - 10/24/2008

    I have woken in the pre-dawn to find our direst predictions coming true, with global stock markets taking yet another pounding and U.S. stock futures limit down. Serving as a proxy for the mindset now gripping governments around the world, French President Sarkozy has announced that the French government will, henceforth, buy shares in important French companies in an attempt to prop them up. 'We will intervene massively whenever a strategic enterprise needs our money,' said Sarkozy, a supposed economic conservative, as he pounded the table on behalf of nationalizing industry. The New Age of big government is upon us. Armed with Harry Potter-like magical monetary wands, they are wildly conjuring a deluge of money from thin air to bind the free market and keep it from facilitating the resolution of economic and investment dislocations created over decades. Bud Conrad tells me he is having a hard time adding up all the fiat money that has been committed to the battle for economic - and, by extension, political - survival over the past couple of months. The numbers rolling off the lips of officialdumb have progressed well past the hundreds of millions, or even hundreds of billions, and have now reached the trillions. In that theme, the Fed announced this week that it would drop over half a trillion - $540 billion, to be exact - on the purchase of suspect commercial paper now clogging the portfolios of 'safe harbor' money market funds. Given that there is a total of $3.4 trillion of your money resting in those very same funds, the commitment of $540 billion - about 16% of the total - should be taken as an indicator of just how bad the problem really is....
  • The Room - 10/17/2008

    Keeping up with the complex drama now flashing across the global screen is becoming more challenging with each passing day. In lazier days, a scene might be allowed to unfold at a measured pace, the interactions between major characters developed through subtle nuance and lingering shots and close-ups of, perhaps, the furrowing of a brow or the sly upturning of the corner of a mouth. These are not those days. Instead, we are living in the world of 30-second commercials, directed by a speed-addicted music video director, strung together in a nonstop explosion of two-second jump cuts. One minute stock markets are soaring, the next crashing. Gold jumps $20, then falls $40. Banks fail, banks get bailed out. Politicians elbow each other out of the way to throw billions, trillions even, into deep, dark holes. Oil tumbles, then bounces, then tumbles again. While the volatility has allowed me to make some fun money through the all-terrain investment vehicles of futures and options, it has also made the task of trying to keep current on the news and, more importantly, on what's important, daunting indeed....
  • The Room - 10/10/2008

    In last week's edition of this meandering missive, I mused as follows... "What, I wonder, will the government do when next week, or the week after maybe, the U.S. stock market takes another header for 500 points? Stay tuned. Meanwhile, gold is at $826, down considerably over the past week. Like when a tsunami sucks the water away from the shore just before hitting, we're in a transition period. I'm not worried about where gold is going next. I wish I could say the same about the world." According to the number crunchers, the U.S. stock market is on track to have its worst week since 1937. Which, as you can see from the DJIA chart here, is an acceleration of the broader trend that has held sway for some time now. While we can't yet say what action the U.S. Government will take next, glancing over the horizon, we see a growing number of countries implementing a euphemistically named "market holiday." In Iceland, all banks and markets are now enjoying a day off. And Kevin Brekke, our Switzerland-based researcher, just wrote that there is a rising call to halt trading in Germany. It would not surprise me in the slightest if the same were to occur in the U.S....
  • The Room - 09/26/2008

    What a world I have returned to from my cloistered retreat at the beautiful Vivenda Miranda, scenically situated on a cliff outside of the quaint port town of Lagos, Portugal. Everything has changed. Everything is changing. The storm we have so long tried to help you prepare for is upon us. At this point, I can only hope you have your sails rigged for the storm now breaking, because time is running out. The violent volatility I warned of when last I wrote has arrived, with towering waves now rising up and smashing into the economy - and as an unavoidable consequence, our personal portfolios -- from all sides. Overnight the holders of my mortgage, WaMu, failed, the largest bank failure in history. This week, the golf course that I usually play on was taken over by the government... last week it belonged to AIG. As you don't need me to tell you, that same government now wants to spend over a trillion dollars to bail out Wall Street and to shore up the money market mutual funds - which have so far flown under the radar screen despite portfolios stuffed to the brim with bad paper. While no one was paying attention, U.S. automakers used their election year leverage to win approval for $25 billion in low-interest loans....
  • The Room 09/19/2008

    Hi, I am Olivier Garret, this week’s editor of The Room. What a rough week out there. My mind wanders as I drive at a crawl (I am not known to be a patient driver) behind a car full of “leaf peepers,” as Vermonters affectionately call the tourists who invade our state every autumn. I wonder how my friend David Galland is doing in Portugal, sipping the local wines with no access to his emails? It may be the worst week to be without market news -- or perhaps not… Hopefully David is enjoying himself while celebrating an old friend’s birthday with a group of other newsletter editors and industry peers. Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Paulson and Fed Chairman Bernanke are not exactly having a day at the beach as they try to solve our nation’s problems. By the way, this past week, it seemed to me that Lehman drew the wrong lottery number while AIG appears to have hit the jackpot. I wonder how many other “private enterprises” will be lucky enough to get bailed out at taxpayers’ expense in the next few months: WaMu, Wachovia, and hundreds of other financial institutions, GM, Ford, Delta, United?...