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Sarah Palin's New $1.75 Million House Purchase Exposes Another Facet Of The Neverending Housing Scam - Short Sale Fraud

This post has two parts: the first one, or the blue pill part, deals with the mundane,  namely Sarah Palin's brand new $1.75 million, 8,000 square foot house in North Scottsdale, which "sits on 4.4 acres and has a home theater, a billiard room, a walk-in wine room and a "resort style backyard" with a gazebo and pool, according to the listing and listing photographs. The brown, stucco-and-stone house, which was renovated this year, has several fireplaces, a six-car garage and mountain views. The property has a circular driveway and desert landscaping." The second part, which is where one takes the red pill, deals with something far more serious: short sale fraud - yet another facet of the ongoing discovery of just how deep mortgage fraud in this country (in this case by real estate "investors") runs. Only this time it is fraud which results in impairments to the banks (arguably). Yet even then, questions remain...



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Euro Surges On News Chinese White Knight To Make Repeat Appearance, Attempt To Bail Out Europe For Second Time (Just As Unsuccessfully)

Back in January we wrote with some amusement that China would be Portugal's knight in shining armor following a "Reuters report that Portugal is in the process of making a private placement of bonds, without announcing details on size or the buyer... The WSJ has just confirmed that China was indeed the buyer, and the amount purchased was €1.1 billion." Since then Portugese bonds have tumbled and China has taken at least a good 10% loss. Five months later, it is time to kick the can once more down the road, courtesy of the Chinese yet again, who not surprisingly don't want to experience a partial wipe out on their foolish investments across their soon to be European protectorate should Greece file tomorow. The FT reports: "Asian investors including the Chinese government are expected to represent a “strong proportion” of the buyers of Portuguese bail-out bonds when the eurozone’s €440bn rescue fund begins auctioning them next month, according to senior fund officials. Klaus Regling, chief executive of the European Financial Stability Facility, told reporters on Wednesday that Beijing was “clearly interested” in the Portuguese auctions and that he expected China to participate." And whoever said that stupidity follows an arithmetic progression was wrong. It's exponential: "He argued the intense interest from Asia and other international investors showed renewed confidence in the future of the euro as a currency." Uh, no. That was the bullshit excuse in January. Now it is merely an attempt to not get destroyed in the upcoming massive pan-continental "rights offering" which will see existing "investors" take haircuts of up to 50%. But since when does Europe even pretend to tell the truth.



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Presenting DSK's Brand New $14 Million Tribeca House Arrest Palace

DSK's torturous stay in corporate housing for the average joe, even for those from IMF bailed out countries, is coming to an end. Next stop: a $14 million palace just purchased by the missus at 153 Franklin Street, half a block away from iconic TriBeCa eatery Bubby's. From the WSJ: "David Bookstaver, a spokesman for the state court system, said that New York Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus approved Mr. Strauss-Kahn's move to a new residence during a conference call with his defense attorneys and prosecutors on Wednesday afternoon. Mr. Bookstaver said he doesn't know where Mr. Strauss-Kahn's new residence will be or when he will be moved." Damn it sure is good to be married to a billionairess, who will do everything in her power from preventing her husband's improprieties from spilling over into her own social scene.



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Guest Post: Bubble Yum (Or Will Facebook Be The First Company To Hit A $1 Trillion Market Cap?)

Remember The Social Network? Like, the movie? So Eduardo Saverin and Mark Zuckerberg are having lunch with Sean Parker, and this is a source of tension already because Eduardo wants to start charging for stuff, and Zuckerberg doesn’t, and--people don’t realize it, but that one creative difference was the most important decision that had to be made in Facebook’s early days--Eduardo was totally wrong and a threat to the company--if they charged for it, they would have killed it. Sean Parker nailed it. “We don’t even know what it is yet,” he said, “but what we do know is that it’s cool. And once you start charging for it, it’s not cool anymore.”
That’s the beauty of Facebook. They still don’t what it is. It’s just cool. And they’re going to put a twelve figure price tag on something that is nothing more than cool. But it’s not a bubble! A company that is this important cannot be a bubble. Put on your tinfoil hat and think about why the government will never, ever let Facebook go out of business. There is an embedded put, and it has a very high strike. I hate talking about stuff like that, but a company that has intimate information (that people willingly put on there!) on every man, woman and child in the country is worth more (to somebody) than $100 billion.



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Fukushima Reactor 1 Drywell Reading Hits All Time High 204 Sieverts/Hour

Remember Fukushima, the worst nuclear catastrophe in the last 20 or so years which soon will surpass Chernobyl in total radioactive emissions into the environment? Well, the radiation in the now officially melted down Reactor 1 has just hit the highest ever reading since the crisis began, or 204 sieverts/hour, recorded in the drywell. Not Micro. Not Milli. Sieverts. It appears the "excuse" that the counters are broken isn't being used this time, although we are confident that the "spurious reading" allegations will fly.



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Welcome To Hyperinflation Hell: Following Currency Devaluation, Belarus Economy Implodes, Sets Blueprint For Developed World Future

"A ‘91-style meltdown is almost inevitable." So says Alexei Moiseev, chief economist at VTB Capital, the investment-banking arm of Russia’s second-largest lender, discussing the imminent economic catastrophe that is sure to engulf Belarus following the surprise devaluation of the country's currency by over 50%, which we announced on Monday. "Unless Belarus heeds Russia’s call for mass privatization
of state assets, it is headed for “hyperinflation, massive un-
and under-employment, and a shutdown of production
" Moiseev concludes. Ah: "privatization" as Greece is about to learn, the lovely word that describes a fire sale of assets to one's creditors, courtesy of a "globalized" new world order. Ironically, this is precisely the warning that will be lobbed at each country in the developed world, as the global race to devalue currencies, first against each other on a relative basis, and ultimately against hard currencies, or on an absolute basis, as the world realizes that there simply is not enough cash flow to cover the interest payments on a debt load, in both the public and private sectors, that continues to rise at an astronomic rate, even as the world prepares to exit from the latest transitory, centrally-planned bounce in the Great Financial Crisis-cum-Depression that started in earnest in 2007 and has been progressing ever since. Ultimately, Belarus will succumb to hyperinflation, as will each and every other government which seek to devalue its currency (hint: all of them): "Unless Belarus heeds Russia’s call for mass privatization
of state assets, it is headed for “hyperinflation, massive un-
and under-employment, and a shutdown of production,” VTB’s
Moiseev said. The ruble will slide to 10,000 per dollar, he
added.
" Of course, this is the primary side effect of attempting to avoid formal bankruptcy through currency devaluation. And all those who continue to believe deflation is an outcome that will be allowed by the Fed, need to look just to the former Soviet satellite to see what lies in store for everyone currently doing all in their power to devalue their currency.



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The Amazing(ly Profitable) Intraday Risk Divergence-Compression Trade Strikes Again

Increasingly more people are starting to outwit the Fed at its own game, which appears to have run out of sufficient capital to manipulate all risk assets (troubles at Citadel?), and thus is forced to focus exclusively on the E-mini. While not pointed out explicitly today, those who were following the trade were presented with an amazing opportunity to pick several basis points when ES once again ramped away from the risk basket (AUDJPY, EURUSD, 10 year, 2s10s30s, Oil and Gold) following the more than obvious buy program attempt to triggers stops, only to slam back with a vengeance and close the gap at close. Like clockwork. The trade continues to be an ideal play for everyone who wishes to remain bull/bear agnostic, and merely trade against Brian Sack's increasingly desperate and underfunded attempts at risk manipulation.



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Here Are Last Year's Ira Sohn Winners And Losers

While the hedge fund world (at least those who are not lucky enough to be among the 250 who have access to valueinvestorclub.com) is currently frenzied by the latest public revelations of attempted groupthink at the annual Ira Sohn conference, which Market Folly is doing a good job of summarizing in real time, Absolute Return magazine has compiled the returns of various managers' recommendations based on their 2010 picks. The big winners: Arbess, Eisman, Grantham, Dinan, and oddly enough Larry Robbins. The biggest loser by far was David Einhorn, whose once iconic cult of 13F clones appears to have lost critical mass. In the middle David Tepper, whose modest beat in Santander was more than offset by losses in Bank of America. Of course, nothing compares to John Paulson's thesis that BofA would hit $30 by the end of 2011. Full summary below.



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Presenting The Fed's Slogan: "Making It Harder To Feed Your Family For 98 Years And Counting"

One of the side effects of the overarching "price stability" mandate of the Fed, it turns out, is the fact that since its inception, food and pretty much all other commodity prices have, well, gone up non stop. And elsewhere, the purchasing power of the dollar is now predicted to go negative in under ten years.



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From Bad To Worse For Bank Of Countrywide Lynch: Utah AG Says BofA's State Foreclosures Are Illegal, As Elijah Cummings Demands BofA Subpoena

There were those who were fuming about what a great deal Bank of America got in acquiring Countrywide. Ironically, that same deal threatens to bite the banks in the ass and cost it tens of billions in litigation as more and more realize that the bank's mortgage-related practices (both before the CFC acquisition and after) have been based on a foundation of fraud. While Zero Hedge has not discussed the issue at length recently due to the expected temporary pushback by various legislatures, which would make an outright risk assessment against BofA impossible since there is far more politics than finance involved, it seems that with each passing day things are getting closer to spiralling out of control for America's largest lender. The latest news, just out from Bloomberg, indicating that the bank may be advised to urgently increase its litigation and putback reserve, is that Utah's AG Mark Shurtleff advised Brian Moynhian that the bank's foreclosures in Utah are illegal. "A Bank of America Corp. unit conducting home foreclosures in Utah is violating the law, the attorney general said in a letter as individual states advanced their investigations of mortgage servicing. “All real estate foreclosures conducted by ReconTrust in the state of Utah are not in compliance with Utah’s statutes, and are hence illegal,” Shurtleff wrote." Oops. There goes another several billion in litigation fees because that beeping noise is thousands of foreclosed upon mortgageholders calling the first attorney they can find in the yellow pages in hopes (soon to be fulfilled) of unwinding completed foreclosures. This action joins comparable pushes from Connecticut, Illinois and California, and pretty soon BofA will be unable to foreclose upon any home in the domestic US. We estimate that the legal cost associated with foreclosure delays will cost the bank well over a billion when all is said and done. And just to make life truly miserable for BofA, Elijah Cumming sent a letter to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform advising he is considering a broad subpoena to all mortgage servicers, chief among them, you guessed it: Bank of America.



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Systemic Risk Elevated

The Financial Stability Board created a list of 30 large global financial entities that represented to it the most systemically worrisome firms in the world. The chart above tracks a weighted average of the 5Y CDS (or credit risk) of these 30 names. The higher the index, the great the credit risk perceived among the world's most systemically worrisome financial entities. The greater that credit risk, the more concern there should be for another round of potential insolvencies or collapse of the financial industry. While the currrent level is certainly not in the critical zone, it is rising rapidly and is approaching key levels at which risk managers will begin to start evaluating CVA overlays in our opinion. A 14% rise in the index over the last three weeks is extremely fast and we note that at current levels we are almost twice as risky currently as were prior to the financial crisis and also at the trough post the financial crisis in Jan2010.



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Oppenheimer's Fadel Gheit Accuses Goldman Of Manipulating Crude Market

It is no secret that Zero Hedge follows every utterance by Goldman Sachs (Morgan Stanley, not so much - it is sad just how irrelevant MS has become when it comes to swaying any opinion at all) as pertains to the firm's outlook on various commodities, simply because by the very nature of the firm's trading operations, whereby its prop desk (yes, Goldman's prop desk is alive and well) controls a substantial amount of the actual commodity outstanding (in either paper or physical form) and then advises clients to do the opposite of what the firm itself is doing. In essence: using its economy of scale (or monopoly, however one wishes to define it), Goldman can sway the market this way and that with one simple "client" note. The recent fiasco whereby Goldman downgraded Brent in April only to upgrade it in May using the very same assumptions, is nothing more than just the latest example of what we have claimed over and over is outright market manipulation. Today, we find we are not alone after Oppenheimer's Fadel Gheit accused the firm of precisely the same thing on Bloomberg TV: "Whether or not they are influencing the market and manipulation could be
a stronger word, but they are influencing the market
. They are doing
things that could be beneficial to them but harmful to the rest of us.
That is where government comes in and says stop, enough. You have a
Ferrari or a Maserati and can go 120 mph, but guess what? Those of us
who can only go 60 miles per hour will be pulverized. That is where the
government has to come in and say there is a speed limit here, but that
is not happening." Of course, if Oppenheimer was large enough and influential enough to do what Goldman does, we are 105% confident Fadel would be singing a totally different tune.



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Levered Beta Uber Alles: NYSE Borse Margin Debt Jumps To Three Year Highs, Investor Net Worth Remains At Record Lows

As we have been saying for over a year, the levered beta rally, and nothing but the levered beta rally (also known as the "if there is career risk involved then you must go all in" rally) continues to be the only trade in the stock market. For today's confirmation we go to the just released April margin debt data from the NYSE which confirms that in April, despite the turbulence of March, investors actually levered up even more, bringing total margin debt to another 3 year high, and at $320 billion (a $5 billion increase from March), and the highest since the $334.9 billion in February of 2008, just before Bear Stearns became the first bank to keel over and die. And it still has a way to go: the all time high was hit in July 2007, when it was $381 billion. What does not have a way to go, is Investor Net Worth expressed as Margin debt less Free Credit Cash and Credit Balances in Margin Accounts: this stayed flat M/M at essentially the lowest level ever of just under ($75) billion. Bottom line: for another month virtually nobody wants or dares to take profit on existing positions. We can only hope all those hundreds of billions in margin dollars succeed to exit at the same time in an orderly fashion when the inevitable unwind finally does occur.



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5 Year Bond Prices At Record Bid To Cover As Indirect Demand Surges In Bond "Shorted" By Goldman Sachs

Today's $35 billion 5 year bond auction was one of the strongest auctions completed in recent years, with a Bid To Cover of 3.20, the highest in the series, compared to 2.77 before and a 2.79 average in the last twelve auctions. This happened despite the yield dropping from 2.124% to 1.813%, the lowest since December 2010. Total competitive bids tendered surged from $97 billion to $112 billion, primarily due to Indirect bids rising from $18.6 billion to $24.4 billion, resulting in a drop in the hit rate from 74.9% to 67.5%. The Primary dealer hit rate also dropped from 25.7% to 20.7%. Indirect take down at 47.1% was the highest since September 2010. Completing the internals, was the -1.7 tail. As a reminder, on March 18 Goldman advised clients to short the 5 Year. That trade did not work out too well. As for the fact that this auction takes total Marketable Debt even further above the debt ceiling, that's irrelevant: the Treasury can just underfund retirement account holdings by another $35 billion.



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Congrats To All Who Got In On AIG Offering...(UPDATE: TIMBERRRRRRR)

...You are down just 3% in a few hours. Also, as a reminder, flipping to bigger idiots only works when one has a profit. And congratulations to the US Treasury. The $5.8 billion in gross proceeds (and $5.4 billion net of the $385 million in fees paid to Bank of America, JP Morgan and other TBTFs) is almost, but not quite, in the same league as the $110 billion in new debt issued this week. Oh, and good luck with the remaining $41 bllion in AIG Treasury exposure (through the common) not at a loss (above $28.70)



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