General Motors to file for bankruptcy

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General Motors, once the largest company in the world, is expected to file for bankruptcy in a New York court tomorrow. Executives and politicians on both sides of the Atlantic are spending the weekend finalising details ahead of the historic capitulation that comes after months of talks and billions of dollars of government investment.

The filing will come on the heels of an eleventh-hour deal this weekend under which Magna International, the Canadian motor-parts group, agreed to rescue its European operations, which include two British plants employing 5,500 workers.

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Dollar Posts Biggest Drop Versus Euro in 2009

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May 30 (Bloomberg) — The dollar declined beyond $1.41 for the first time in 2009 in the year’s biggest monthly drop after investors dumped dollar-denominated assets as the U.S. budget deficit was projected to quadruple to $1.85 trillion.

The greenback fell against all of its major counterparts in May including the Australian and New Zealand dollars as the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note touched the highest level since November. The pound rose above $1.60 as speculation an economic recovery is starting enhanced the appeal of sterling.

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(Bloomberg)
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“It’s a fundamental dollar-down trade,” said James McCormick, global head of foreign exchange and local market strategy at Citigroup Inc. in London. “The truth is that countries like the U.S. with handicapped banking systems, with overextended fiscal policy, are going to see very shallow recoveries.”

The dollar weakened 6.3 percent this month to $1.4158 per euro, from $1.3230 on April 30. It was the biggest drop since December’s 9.2 percent decline. The greenback fell 3.3 percent to 95.34 yen from 98.63 at the end of last month. The yen slid 3.3 percent to 134.96 per euro, from 130.52.

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US Association of Physicians calls for Moratorium on GMO Foods

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has just issued a call for an immediate moratorium on Genetically Manipulated (GMO) Foods.

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In a just-released position paper on GMO foods, the AAEM states that ‘GM foods pose a serious health risk’ and calls for a moratorium on GMO foods. Citing several animal studies, the AAEM concludes ‘there is more than a casual association between GMO foods and adverse health effects’ and that ‘GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health.’ The report is a devastating blow to the multibillion dollar international agribusiness industry, most especially to Monsanto Corporation, the world’s leading purveyor of GMO seeds and related herbicides.

In a press release dated May 19, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, which describes itself as ‘an international association of physicians and other professionals dedicated to addressing the clinical aspects of environmental health,’ called immediately for the following emergency measures to be taken regarding human consumption of GMO foods:

* A moratorium on GMO food; implementation of immediate long term safety testing and labelling of GMO food.

* Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community and the public to avoid GMO foods.

* Physicians to consider the role of GMO foods in their patients’ disease processes.

* More independent long term scientific studies to begin gathering data to investigate the role of GMO foods on human health.

The AAEM chairperson, Dr Amy Dean notes that ‘Multiple animal studies have shown that GM foods cause damage to various organ systems in the body. With this mounting evidence, it is imperative to have a moratorium on GM foods for the safety of our patients’ and the public’s health.’ The President of the AAEM, Dr Jennifer Armstrong stressed that ‘Physicians are probably seeing the effects in their patients, but need to know how to ask the right questions. The most common foods in North America which are consumed that are GMO are corn, soy, canola, and cottonseed oil.’ The AAEM’s position paper on Genetically Modified foods can be found at http:aaemonline.org.

Related information:
Exposed: the great GM crops myth
The World According to Monsanto – A documentary that Americans won’t ever see
At stake is no less than control of the world’s food supply.

The paper further states that Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) technology ‘abrogates natural reproductive processes, selection occurs at the single cell level, the procedure is highly mutagenic and routinely breeches genera barriers, and the technique has only been used commercially for 10 years.’

The AAEM paper further states, ’several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food consumption including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signalling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system.’

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Bond Vigilantes Confront Obama as Housing Falters

May 29 (Bloomberg) — They’re back.

For the first time since another Democrat occupied the White House, investors from Beijing to Zurich are challenging a president’s attempts to revive the economy with record deficit spending. Fifteen years after forcing Bill Clinton to abandon his own stimulus plans, the so-called bond vigilantes are punishing Barack Obama for quadrupling the budget shortfall to $1.85 trillion. By driving up yields on U.S. debt, they are also threatening to derail Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s efforts to cut borrowing costs for businesses and consumers.

The 1.4-percentage-point rise in 10-year Treasury yields this year pushed interest rates on 30-year fixed mortgages to above 5 percent for the first time since before Bernanke announced on March 18 that the central bank would start printing money to buy financial assets. Treasuries have lost 5.1 percent in their worst annual start since Merrill Lynch & Co. began its Treasury Master Index in 1977.

“The bond-market vigilantes are up in arms over the outlook for the federal deficit,” said Edward Yardeni, who coined the term in 1984 to describe investors who protest monetary or fiscal policies they consider inflationary by selling bonds. He now heads Yardeni Research Inc. in Great Neck, New York. “Ten trillion dollars over the next 10 years is just an indication that Washington is really out of control and that there is no fiscal discipline whatsoever.”

Don’t miss:
Marc Faber: U.S. will go into Hyperinflation, Approaching Zimbabwe Levels (Bloomberg)
US Will Eventually Lose Its AAA Credit Rating: Bill Gross (Bloomberg)
U.S. Treasury Blues: The Bond Bubble Has Burst (Barrons)

Investor Dread

What bond investors dread is accelerating inflation after the government and Fed agreed to lend, spend or commit $12.8 trillion to thaw frozen credit markets and snap the longest U.S. economic slump since the 1930s. The central bank also pledged to buy as much as $300 billion of Treasuries and $1.25 trillion of bonds backed by home loans.

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FDIC: Troubled Bank Loans Hit a Record High

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OVERALL loan quality at American banks is the worst in at least a quarter century, and the quality of loans is deteriorating at the fastest pace ever, according to statistics released this week by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

The report highlighted that even as the government and major banks have scrambled to deal with the impaired securities the banks own, the institutions have been plagued by an unprecedented volume of old-fashioned loans going bad.

Of the entire book of loans and leases at all banks — totaling $7.7 trillion at the end of March — 7.75 percent were showing some sign of distress, the F.D.I.C. reported. That was up from 6.9 percent at the end of 2008 and from 4.1 percent a year earlier. It also exceeded the previous high of 7.26 percent set in 1990 and 1991, during the last crisis in American banking.

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Gates: U.S. will not accept nuclear North Korea

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South Korean sailors take part in exercises Friday in disputed waters off the Korean Peninsula.

(CNN) — The United States will not accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Saturday at an international conference.

“We will not stand idly by as North Korea builds the capability to wreak destruction on any target in the region — or on us,” said Gates, speaking at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore.

“Our goal is complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and we will not accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state,” he said.

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Bond markets defy Fed as Treasury yields spike

The US Federal Reserve may soon be forced to launch fresh blitz of quantitative easing whatever the consequences for the US dollar, or risk seeing economic recovery snuffed out by the latest surge in long-term borrowing costs.

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Market expects Fed will have to double purchases of Treasuries. Photo: Getty Images

Yields on 10-year Treasury bonds have risen relentlessly since March when the Fed first announced its plan to buy $300bn (£188bn) of US government debt directly, a move that briefly forced rates down to nearly 2.5pc, a level thought to be the Fed’s implicit target.

Yields have jumped to 3.69pc – after spiking as high as 3.74pc on Wednesday – pushing up the standard 30-year mortgage loan to 5.08pc and lifting the borrowing cost for corporations.

“The Fed is going to have to consider doubling its purchases of Treasuries,” said Ashraf Laidi, from CMC Capital Markets. “We could be nearing the end-game for the US dollar but the Fed has little choice at this point. We’re in a vicious circle where any policy aimed at supporting the US economy must be at the expense of the dollar.”

Related article:
Marc Faber: U.S. will go into Hyperinflation, Approaching Zimbabwe Levels (Bloomberg)

The US Mortgage Bankers Association yesterday highlighted the fragility of the US housing market, reporting that 12pc of homeowners are either behind on their payments or facing foreclosure, the highest level since records began.

Read moreBond markets defy Fed as Treasury yields spike