As Europe continues shouldering the burden of the devaluing dollar, courtesy of a Euro that just wont quit, even as the Eurozone is constantly putting out fires in its own backyard (Greece, Hypo, Latvia, ongoing downgrades), the optimism over European prospects is now more pervasive than ever. In a report titled "Key Surprises for 2010" Morgan Stanley's ever insightful Teun Draaisma has attempted to present the intangibles: the unquantifiable risks. As he points out "if there is a lesson the markets keep telling us, it is the persistence of uncertainty. Unlike risks, which are known and measurable, uncertainty is difficult to calibrate. We can never know the exact payoff distribution for any given investment." In order to conceptualize the 4 key areas of possible systematic impact, the strategist has provided 4 main scenarios he believes may shape equity returns over the coming year in a downside case.
While certainly a "slight" improvement from last week's ratio of 82 sales for every buy (in dollar value), this week we see a reversion back to the recent mean of about 30x, or a 32.4x ratio of insider selling to buying, to be specific. In the last week insiders sold $332.7 million worth of stock and bought $10.2 million. The recession continues being over.
Six months ago, Bill Ackman's Pershing Square came out with a research piece called "The Buck's Rebound Begins Here" in which he concluded a fair equiy value for bankrupt REIT General Growth Properties is between $10.40 and $30.08 per share. While since May the liquidity bubble has lifted all dodgy commercial REITs to unbelievable valuations, courtesy of round upon round of diluting capital raises, GGP being among them, the question of whether the tide has moved too far too fast is once again relevant, both for the broader REIT segment as well as for GGP in particular. Today we present the opposite view courtesy of Hovde Capital Advisors, and their report "General Growth Properties - Fool's Gold: We Think Current Equity Investors Will Be Disappointed in the Company’s Reorganization."
A quant fund voicing against the proposed transaction tax is hardly surprising. We expect many more letters from Asness' colleagues at GETCO, RenTec and all other HFT venues whose livelihood depends on strictly continuing the status quo. We eagerly expect a follow on essay in which Mr. Asness discusses the pro and cons of High Frequency Trading.
Should Congress and the President find enough appeal in HR 4191 to enact it, there are
three possible outcomes. The first is that there are enough loopholes that the tax raises
little money but has unfortunate side effects like driving jobs and tax revenues overseas
or inflating the balance sheets of banks. The second is that there are no meaningful
loopholes but, surprisingly, people still trade a lot and enormous taxes are paid, in which
case we expect stock prices to fall dramatically. The third, and most likely, is that there
aren’t enough exemptions and investors react by sharply reducing trading activity, so
there is little revenue but great harm to the market and the economy. Whichever of these
occurs, the sponsors of the Bill will face a hard time explaining how, when aiming to
shoot the banks, they shot their constituents who will then pay for the next Wall Street
bailout. - Cliff Asness
A 20 year chart comparing oil with railcar loadings may have something to say about either the mispricing of the commodity or provide some insight into Buffett's thinking on his long-term interest in rail. Granted, he started buying rails at or about the market peak so it is unlikely that the Omaha recipient of governmental generosity has this particular correlation in mind, however, it is oddly striking that while in the past the two trendlines have had a very distinct pattern, ever since the pop in the commodity bubble and the collapse of America into a recession the two have converged. On the other hand, as oil prices are driven purely by speculation and reflect very little of fundamental supply/demand metrics, and thus reflect nothing but excess liquidity, this particular convergence may persist for as long as Bernanke deems it relevant.
If you needed a reason to buy today's deja vu listless and volumeless tape, here it is. Mexico cut by S&P from BBB+/A-2 to BBB/A-3. Outlook is "stable"... absent a hyperinflationary collapse. Expect a rebuttal from Goldman Sachs, which has been axed the wrong way for quite a while.
"The intensifying economic and solvency crises, and the responses to both by the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve in the last two years, have exacerbated the government's solvency issues and moved forward my timing estimation for the hyperinflation to the next five years, from the 2010 to 2018 timing range estimated in the prior report. The U.S. government and Federal Reserve already have committed the system to this course through the easy politics of a bottomless pocketbook, the servicing of big-moneyed special interests, gross mismanagement, and a deliberate and ongoing effort to debase the U.S. currency. Accordingly, risks are particularly high of the hyperinflation crisis breaking within the next year." - John Williams, ShadowStats
Greece Enters Twilight Zone As It Announces 90% Banker Bonus Tax Plans, Expectations For Sub 3% Deficit By 2013Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/14/2009 - 14:44
Developing story as highlights from George Papandreou's speech become available. Some notable snippets include his desire to cut deficits below 3% of GDP by 2013 (good luck), a cut in debt sovereign starting in 2012, and, most notably, a limitation on banker bonuses in the form a 90% bonus tax.
More headlines: Greek PM says will privatise companies not essential to the state, will proceed with state asset sales
Is Barney About To Spoil The Banker Party With Proposal To Only Give Retail Banks Discount Window Access?Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/14/2009 - 13:52
Even with lots of worthless chatter coming out of the White House in the past 24 hours, one solitary fighter for "the common man" emerges in the form of Barney Frank. Whether this is due to the Congressman not getting a thick enough envelope endorsed and signed by the Big 5 banks, or not, we don't know yet. However, courtesy of our sources on the Hill, the latest development our of Washington is that Frank is trying to generate support for a Congressional bill that would allow only retail banks with a lending function to have Fed discount window access. While this is a brilliantly simple solution to see hedge funds, and for some reason Bank and Financial Holding Companies, like Goldman Sachs finally open up some retail depository branches, the response from Wall Street would be furious. Many banks still exist only courtesy of the last recourse short-term funding option that the discount window affords them. If the Big 18 are forced to lend, which is the prima facie reason for this bill, only to be able to fund their speculative gambling courtesy of zero percent cost of capital, then all bets will surely be off. Goldman without discount window access is the most ludicrous thing imaginable.
The Dubai government will also announce a reorganization law today which will be available to Dubai World's (DW) creditors if they cannot voluntarily agree on restructuring parameters. Again, this may imply that the government would like to limit further cash injections into DW and Nakheel (beyond the $10bn just announced). - JP Morgan
The only way to maintain the global ponzi bubble as insiders cash out in ever increasing droves has now become a wave of rolling bailouts not only in the US, but across the entire world. The latest little casualty that could: Austria's Hypo Group Alpe Adria, the country's fifth largest bank by assets, which was nationalilzed ealier in a €5.5 billion bailout package. But ignore that: Europe is long and strong, with no bank balance sheet assets writedowns, a flourishing export economy, a surging currency and unprecedented growth ahead of soon to be (non) bankrupt Eastern European and Baltic states. The sarcasm in the previous statement is certainly not lost on the Austrian National Bank which said that "the whole Austrian economy has been able to avert a massive threat at a critical moment in time." No further commentary needed. Ben Bernanke's Moral Hazard world tour soon coming to an insolvent bank near your cottage.
"Last week I was a participant in the Wall Street Journal's Future of Finance Initiative in England. WSJ has written a summary of the conference highlights, and missed some key points. Allow me to fill in the blanks." - Janet Tavakoli
"Below we highlight President Obama’s weekly address, in which he blames the big bad banks for luring borrowers into the myriad of products during the credit bubble, a bubble that in our view was promulgated by the nation’s policymakers.
When things go awry, however, it is very easy for those in Washington to point the fingers at somebody else. What did Congress, the SEC, the Fed, and the White House think in that 2002-07 bubble period except that excess credit was creating jobs; in turn, those jobs were creating prosperity and that prosperity led to votes. Now the borrowers, who signed contracts, and as adults should also be held accountable, are being treated as “victims” by politicians and the media." - David Rosenberg
The big guns in LA are out swinging, with news emerging that Jeff Gundlach will get funding and a minority investment from of bond giant and other major TCW defector, Oaktree. Howard Marks' firm is now set to eat TCW's municipal lunch. And all the disciples of Robert Day had to do was promote the guy. Also, futures in the "Battle of the Attanasios"(Paul and Mark) just surged majorly in favor of the House creator.
It is good to see who is back in charge. Obama is patiently sitting in the conference room playing Brick Breaker on his Bbery. This probably means that private jets are finally back. Also, not a good endorsement of the Acela train.
"Executives from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), Morgan Stanley (MS) and Citigroup Inc. (C) are delayed as they try to make it to a meeting Monday with President Barack Obama at the White House, Fox Business Network reports. Flights for Goldman Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein, Morgan Stanley CEI John Mack and Citigroup Chairman Richard Parsons are being delayed by fog."