Germans Fear Meltdown of Financial System

Germany and other industrialized nations are desperately trying to brace themselves against the threat of a collapse of the global financial system. The crisis has now taken its toll on the German economy, where the weak dollar is putting jobs in jeopardy and the credit crunch is paralyzing many businesses.

trader1.jpgA trader reacts in front of the DAX board at the Frankfurt stock exchange.

The Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank, doesn’t like to see its employees working too late, and it expects even senior staff members to be headed home by 8 p.m. On weekends, employees seeking to escape the confines of their own homes are required to sign in at the front desk and are accompanied to their own desks by a security guard. Sensitive documents are kept in safes in many offices, and a portion of Germany’s gold reserves is stored behind meter-thick, reinforced concrete walls in the basement of a nearby building. In this environment, working overtime is considered a security risk.But the ordinary working day has been in disarray in recent weeks at the Bundesbank headquarters building, a gray, concrete box in Frankfurt’s Ginnheim neighborhood, where the crisis on international financial markets has many employees working late, even on weekends.

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Treasury’s Plan Would Give Fed Wide New Power

“The Fed would have the authority to go wherever in the system it thinks it needs to go for a deeper look to preserve stability,” Mr. Paulson said in the advance text of Monday’s speech. “To do this effectively, it will collect information from commercial banks, investment banks, insurance companies, hedge funds, commodity pool operators.”
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WASHINGTON – The Treasury Department will propose on Monday that Congress give the Federal Reserve broad new authority to oversee financial market stability, in effect allowing it to send SWAT teams into any corner of the industry or any institution that might pose a risk to the overall system.

The proposal is part of a sweeping blueprint to overhaul the nation’s hodgepodge of financial regulatory agencies, which many experts say failed to recognize rampant excesses in mortgage lending until after they set off what is now the worst financial calamity in decades.

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Americans fear harder times

Public’s feelings about economy are bleakest since ’73, survey indicates Americans are bracing for rising unemployment and shrinking salaries, a gloomy outlook that could translate into a serious cutback in consumer spending, the primary engine of the economy.

A survey of about 2,500 households found that Americans feel worse about the economy’s prospects than at any time since 1973, when Americans struggled with soaring oil prices and runaway inflation.

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US fears over honey bee collapse

The pollination of crops by bees is responsible for a third of the food produced in the US.

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The US bee population fell by about 30% last year

One in every three mouthfuls has been touched by their tiny feet; but our six-legged friends are in trouble.

They are getting sick and leaving their hives. Without bees, food gets more expensive – some products could disappear altogether.

Colony collapse disorder (CCD) emerged last year, and by spring 2007 bees were dying in huge numbers – over the year as a whole the total bee population fell by 30%.

Some beekeepers lost closer to 90%, and the fear is it will get worse.

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Goldman sees $1.2 trillion global credit loss

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – Goldman Sachs forecasts global credit losses stemming from the current market turmoil will reach $1.2 trillion, with Wall Street accounting for nearly 40 percent of the losses.

U.S. leveraged institutions, which include banks, brokers-dealers, hedge funds and government-sponsored enterprises, will suffer roughly $460 billion in credit losses after loan loss provisions, Goldman Sachs economists wrote in a research note released late on Monday.

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“Pay day” loans exacerbate housing crisis

CLEVELAND (Reuters) – As hundreds of thousands of American home owners fall behind on their mortgage payments, more people are turning to short-term loans with sky-high interest rates just to get by.While figures are hard to come by, evidence from nonprofit credit and mortgage counselors suggests that the number of people using these so-called “pay day loans” is growing as the U.S. housing crisis deepens, a negative sign for economic recovery.

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“We’re hearing from around the country that many folks are buried deep in pay day loan debts as well as struggling with their mortgage payments,” said Uriah King, a policy associate at the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL).

A pay day loan is typically for a few hundred dollars, with a term of two weeks, and an interest rate as high as 800 percent. The average borrower ends up paying back $793 for a $325 loan, according to the Center.

The Center also estimates pay day lenders issued more than $28 billion in loans in 2005, the latest available figures.

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Fed May Buy Mortgages Next, Treasury Investors Bet

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March 24 (Bloomberg) — Forget lower interest rates. For the Federal Reserve to keep the financial markets from imploding it needs to buy troubled mortgage bonds from banks and securities firms, say the world’s biggest Treasury investors.

Even after cutting rates by 3 percentage points since September, expanding the range of securities it accepts as collateral for loans and giving dealers access to its discount window, the Fed has been unable to promote confidence. The difference between what the government and banks pay for three- month loans almost doubled in the past month to 1.69 percentage points.

The only tool left may be for the Fed to help facilitate a Resolution Trust Corp.-type agency that would buy bonds backed by home loans, said Bill Gross, manager of the world’s biggest bond fund at Pacific Investment Management Co. While purchasing some of the $6 trillion mortgage securities outstanding would take problem debt off the balance sheets of banks and alleviate the cause of the credit crunch, it would put taxpayers at risk.

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Silver Shortage gets Worse, Price Drops Again!

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Silver 6 Months

(If you don’t hold it, you don’t own it)

Three more major silver dealers are reported to be out of silver today: The U.S. Mint, Kitco, and Monex. This, on top of the major dealers yesterday, Amark, Perth Mint, CNI Numismatics, and APMEX, all reported sold out. Further, nearly all of Canada is reported to be out of silver, from Vancouver to Toronto.

This is unprecedented, and is a perfect case of market manipulation in the paper market at COMEX and other futures exchanges to see silver prices continue to drop down to below $17/oz. today. Paper promises can be created endlessly, but real silver cannot.

This is NOT a case of the dealers getting spooked, and selling out to the refiners just in time, at peak prices. This is a case of the public buying up the stock at coin shops across the world ever since gold hit $1000/oz.. That event finally sparked a little of the public’s buying of silver and gold. Thus, the typical coin shop flow of silver to the refiners just stopped in the last few weeks, and especially the last two days.

This is NOT a case of the public creating a top with ‘everyone’ in silver, because nobody’s in silver yet. In 2006, only $1 billion was spent on investment silver, which is 0.007% of the $13.5 trillion of money in the banks. As I have long reported, the silver market is so small, there is no room for new investor demand, not even 0.1% of money could be spent on silver, because that would be $13 billion, which would push silver prices to $200/oz., and we are seeing only the tiniest beginnings of that.

Read moreSilver Shortage gets Worse, Price Drops Again!