Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Monday, 2 December 2013

Bank glitch leaves Millions of customers across the United Kingdom unable to withdraw cash, pay for goods -

Bank glitch leaves Millions of customers across the United Kingdom unable to withdraw cash, pay for goods - 

RBS and its retail banking unit Netwest's online systems and debit cards failed on Monday evening as customers were unable to process payments on one of the busiest online shopping days called the "Cyber Monday".
Millions of customers across the United Kingdom were unable to withdraw cash, pay for goods or use telephone and online banking services.
In its response, the bank's twitter account, RBS Help tweeted "we are aware of some technical issues and are working hard to fix them. Sorry and thanks for your patience."
The bank's Irish unit, Ulster Bank, also reportedly faced similar glitches.
RBS, which is 82 percent owned by the UK government, faced a probe by the Financial Conduct Authority in April when technology failure left customers unable to avail the bank's card and online services.
A software upgrade gone wrong also led to similar problems for RBS' customers in June 2012.

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Migraines link to plastic cups and bottles... -

Migraines link to plastic cups and bottles... - 

Drinking water from plastic cups or bottles could be giving millions of Britons headaches.
New research shows that a controversial ‘gender-bending’ chemical in synthetic packaging may trigger migraines.
Bisphenol A (BPA) has already been linked to a range of heath problems including obesity, infertility and heart attacks.
Now the latest study – published in the journal Toxicological Sciences – points to BPA causing the debilitating headaches which afflict one in seven UK adults.

The authors urge sufferers to strip out potential sources of contamination from their daily diet, which include plastic microwave trays, bottles and office water coolers.
Their report states: 'A previously performed study using a "fresh foods" dietary intervention demonstrated a significant decrease in urinary BPA (66 per cent reduction) in patients after just three days.

'These findings combined with our results suggest that a clinical trial to decrease BPA exposure and levels in migraine sufferers...may reduce headache frequency and/or severity, revealing strategies that may increase the quality of life of migraineurs.'
The University of Kansas study emulated human exposure to BPA in the laboratory.
Researchers observed the behaviour of rats, half of whom were administered the chemical once every three days.
Within half an hour of the dose, those exposed to BPA became less active, steered clear of loud noise and strong light, were easily startled and showed signs of tenderness to the head.
Researchers suggest migraine sufferers should limit their risk of exposure to BPA by cutting out the use of plastic microwave trays, cups and bottles

The rats’ brains also gave off telltale signals of an influx of oestrogen.
Migraines have been linked to sudden changes in levels of the female sex hormone, which BPA mimics. 
The report states: 'The behavioural measures used [were] designed to model many of the symptoms humans experience during a migraine attack.
'Rats exposed to BPA demonstrated significantly augmented migraine-like behaviours.
'These results imply that BPA has the ability to amplify symptoms that are used to diagnose the disorder in human patients, suggesting that exposure to BPA would increase both the incidence and prevalence of this disorder.'
Around five million Britons suffer from migraines though women are three times more likely to have them.
Neurologist Dr Fayyaz Ahmed, of the Migraine Trust charity, said: 'We know Bisphenol A is used in materials such as food packaging, plastics and tins.
'In most sufferers, attacks are genetically linked and the triggers only generate them in those who are predisposed. 
'But if BPA is implicated in the genesis of migraines than this would certainly be a milestone in headache research.'
Bisphenol A is so commonplace because of the range of products it’s found in, everything from car dashboards to shower curtains to till receipts and cosmetics.
Countries across the world – including EU member states, Canada and China - have moved to ban the chemical from baby bottles.
The previous study which tested a ‘fresh foods’ diet picked families from San Francisco who ate canned food and were exposed to BPA through at least two of four other sources: drinking from personal water bottles; drinking from office water coolers; eating meals away from home and eating eating meals microwaved in plastic.

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Google searches for the term “stock bubble” are now at the highest level that we have seen since November 2007 - 

One of the men that won the Nobel Prize for economics this year says that “bubbles look like this” and that he is “most worried about the boom in the U.S. stock market.”  But you don’t have to be a Nobel Prize winner to see what is happening.  It should be glaringly apparent to anyone with half a brain.  The financial markets have been soaring while the overall economy has been stagnating.  Reckless injections of liquidity into the financial system by the Federal Reserve have pumped up stock prices to ridiculous extremes, and people are becoming concerned.  In fact, Google searches for the term “stock bubble” are now at the highest level that we have seen since November 2007.  Despite assurances from the mainstream media and the Federal Reserve that everything is just fine, many Americans are beginning to realize that we have seen this movie before.  We saw it during the dotcom bubble, and we saw it during the lead up to the horrible financial crisis of 2008.  So precisely when will the bubble burst this time?  Nobody knows for sure, but without a doubt this irrational financial bubble will burst at some point.  Remember, a bubble is always the biggest right before it bursts, and the following are 15 signs that we are near the peak of an absolutely massive stock market bubble…
#1 Bob Shiller, one of the winners of this year’s Nobel Prize for economics, says that “bubbles look like this” and that he is “most worried about the boom in the U.S. stock market.”

#2 The total amount of margin debt has risen by 50 percent since January 2012 and it is now at the highest level ever recorded.  The last two times that margin debt skyrocketed like this were just before the bursting of the dotcom bubble in 2000 and just before the financial crisis of 2008.  When this house of cards comes crashing down, things are going to get very messy…

“When the tablecloth gets pulled out from under the place settings, you’re going to have a lot of them crash and smash on the floor,” said Uri Landesman, president of Platinum Partners hedge fund. “That margin’s going to get pulled and everyone’s going to have to cover. That’s when you get really serious corrections.”

#3 Since the bottom of the market in 2009, the Dow has jumped 143 percent, the S&P 500 is up 165 percent and the Nasdaq has risen an astounding 213 percent.  This does not reflect economic reality in any way, shape or form.

#4 Market research firm TrimTabs says that the S&P 500 is “very overpriced” right now.

#5 Marc Faber recently told CNBC that “we are in a gigantic speculative bubble”.

#6 In the United States, Google searches for the term “stock bubble” are at the highest level that we have seen since November 2007 - just before the last stock market crash.

#7 Price to earnings ratios are very high right now…

The Dow was trading at 17.8 times the past four quarters of earnings of its 30 components, according to The Wall Street Journal on Friday. That was up from 13.7 times its earnings a year ago. The S&P 500 is trading at 18.7 times earnings. The Nasdaq-100 Index is trading at 21.5 times earnings. At the very least, the ratios are signaling that stock prices are rich.

#8 According to CNBC, Pinterest is currently valued at more than 3 billion dollars even though it has never earned a profit.

#9 Twitter is a seven-year-old company that has never made a profit.  It actually lost 64.6 million dollars last quarter.  But according to the financial markets it is currently worth about 22 billion dollars.

#10 Right now, Facebook is trading at a valuation that is equivalent to approximately 100 years of earnings, and it is currently supposedly worth about 115 billion dollars.

#11 Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital recently stated that he believes that “markets are riskier than at any time since the depths of the 2008/9 crisis”.

#12 As Graham Summers recently noted, retail investors are buying stocks at a level not seen since the peak of the dotcom bubble back in 2000.

#13 David Stockman, a former director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan, believes that this financial bubble is going to end very badly…

“We have a massive bubble everywhere, from Japan, to China, Europe, to the UK.  As a result of this, I think world financial markets are extremely dangerous, unstable, and subject to serious trouble and dislocation in the future.”

#14 Bob Janjuah of Nomura Securities believes that there “could be a 25% to 50% sell off in global stock markets” over the next couple of years.

#15 According to Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge, the U.S. stock market is repeating a pattern that we have seen many times before.  According to him, we are experiencing “a well-defined syndrome of ‘overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising-yield’ conditions that has appeared exclusively at speculative market peaks – including (exhaustively) 1929, 1972, 1987, 2000, 2007, 2011 (before a market loss of nearly 20% that was truncated by investor faith in a new round of monetary easing), and at three points in 2013: February, May, and today.”

As I mentioned at the top of this article, this stock market bubble has been fueled by quantitative easing.  Easy money from the Fed has been artificially inflating stock prices, and this has greatly benefited a very small percentage of the U.S. population.  In fact, 82 percent of all individually held stocks are owned by the wealthiest 5 percent of all Americans.

When this stock market bubble does burst, those wealthy Americans are going to be in for a tremendous amount of pain.

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