2012 February 15 | timiacono.com

It Would Help if This Guy Wasn’t So Fat

I’ve been meaning to comment on this for a week or two now (ever since the ninth or tenth escalation – I’ve lost track – of the Greek debt crisis began last month), but, since Reuters was kind enough to provide the photo below in this story from earlier today, it seemed like a good time to offer a few thoughts on obesity and bailouts.

Of course, I know nothing about Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos in general or about what kind of a job he’s been doing in trying to keep the Greek government from defaulting on its debt and plunging all the world into another Lehman-style financial market meltdown, but, in a world where perceptions are very important, it seems it would help things along a bit if the top finance official of a spendthrift nation being bailed out after years of profligacy they kept hidden from the rest of the world wasn’t morbidly obese.

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Like many gold investors, I’ve grown increasingly tired of listening to what Warren Buffett has to say about the yellow metal in recent years, but his latest comments do offer something valuable. It is another timely reminder that conventional wisdom here in the U.S. is decidedly “anti-gold,” and that many investors will never, ever understand (or care) why gold has been one of the very best performing asset classes for more than a decade (many of them never even bother to try).

In many ways, this is a classic case of cognitive dissonance, a condition that I normally summarize as “rejecting out of hand or going to great lengths to construct weak/invalid arguments against beliefs that are inconsistent with other strongly held views”.

In short, for many to believe that there is a valid investment case to be made for gold, they must grapple with other uncomfortable possibilities, such as the idea that the world’s monetary system is unsustainable over the long run and that, perhaps, many assets have been mispriced for decades now due to actions taken by central banks and other policymakers, and that this was a major cause of the ongoing financial crisis.

[To continue reading this story, please visit Seeking Alpha.]

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Some have come to expect the folks at the Wall Street Journal’s MarketBeat blog to be dismissive of ‘Ol Yeller, but this offering from the WSJ Real Time Economics Blog has got to be one of – if not THE – weakest negative commentaries on gold that I’ve ever read.

It was as if they weren’t even trying… The two comments were better than the post itself:

rfs wrote:
Another uninformed idiot babbles on about gold price as if the writer actually owns any gold!!!! Gold and silver over the past 10 years have been one of the worlds best investments and some twerp is going to make the call on it !!!!!

GAB wrote :
one does not have to own gold to make an analysis. India arranging payments to iran using gold is a bullish event. news from china on gold is most bullish. further central bank buys will be bullish. always bearish is the ability of the bullion banks to manipulate the price lower, especially during times of the trade day when volume is the lightest.

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Misery in Greece. Misery in Germany?

Tales of woe are emerging from Greece at an accelerating pace – government workers who become suicidal after learning that they’re being downsized and the proliferation of soup kitchens – but, should the nation default on its debt, some of that misery could spread elsewhere, according to the graphic below from this Spiegel story, even to Germany.

Also see this related collection of photos from Spiegel and this New York Times Magazine story from yesterday about the rapidly changing Greek lifestyle. It’s not all good.

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Wednesday Morning Links

Iran ‘halts oil exports to six EU states’ – BBC
Payroll Tax Cut Added to Gov’t Credit Card – Fiscal Times
Euro-Area Economy Contracts for the First Time Since 2009 – Bloomberg
Greek conservative takes bailout pledge to the wire – Reuters
Greece Struggles to Win Second Financial Bailout – Bloomberg
Portugal’s Debt Efforts May Be Warning for Greece – NY Times
China Pledges to Invest in Europe Bailout Funds – Businessweek
Xi Jinping’s US Visit: China’s Next Leader Takes Center Stage – Spiegel
Chris Whalen: JPM and the Banks Have the MF Global Money – Jesse’s Cafe
Bullard On Duy On Bullard On Potential Output – Econospeak
Again With Potential Output – Fed Watch
Next Up: Portugal – Dollar Collapse

Rising Iran tensions send oil higher – RTE News
Gold firm, takes cue from euro, eyes Greece – Reuters
Investors: Read a lot, get squat! – A Dash of Insight
No One Is Expecting A Big Trend. That’s Bullish. – Fisher, Forbes
Hedge Funds Switch Positions, Paulson Switches Style – DealBook
Paulson, Vinik, Tudor Sell GLD; Soros Buys – Businessweek
Papering Over The Gold Standard’s Flaws – Capital Spectator
The politics of central bank gold holdings – Mineweb
Vital Signs: Gold Losing Some Luster? – WSJ
A gold puzzle – Economist

Is This Recovery? Part I – Daily Capitalist
Maxime Bernier: Give Keynes the boot – Financial Post
Is Bernanke’s shyness holding back the economy? – Fortune
North and south split as euro zone economy shrinks – Reuters
David Rosenberg – “Let’s Get Real – Risks Are Looming Big Time” – Zero Hedge
Misery in Athens: ‘New Poor’ Grows from Greek Middle Class – Spiegel
Is QE working?, asks the Bank of England – FT Alphaville
Housing inventory declines may prove temporary – Housing Wire
Faulty reasoning keeps GSEs out of foreclosure deal – LA Times
Markets Don’t Believe Fed’s 2014 Rate Timetable – WSJ
Grant: Fed Should Heed Lessons of 1920 Recession Response – Bloomberg
Some at Fed eye the gas pedal, others the brake – Reuters

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