Blackberry Craters After Report Company Abandons Sale, To Replace CEO, To Issue 19.2% Dilutive Convert Instead

Just over a month ago, when we shared our cynical view on the "hopium" inspired LBO of Blackberry, we commented as follows: "In other words an LBO, one which however has not only one but many outs: "There can be no assurance that due diligence will be satisfactory, that financing will be obtained, that a definitive agreement will be entered into or that the transaction will be consummated." Which means that once the buyers figure out the potential disaster on the books, expect the final price (if any) to be revised lower as one after another MAC clause is triggered." Not even we were right: as it turns out moments ago, the Globe & Mail reported that having looked at the BBRY, not only will the price be revised lower, but the "purchase" price will be eliminated altogether as any deal is now dead, the company will do a convert offering instead and deadpan CEO Torsten Heins is history.

Key Events And Issues In The Coming Week

Looking ahead, Thursday will be a busy day with the ECB (plus Draghi’s press conference) and BoE meetings. Some are expecting the ECB to cut rates as early at this week although most believe the rate cut will not happen until December. Draghi will likely deflect the exchange rate’s relevance via its  impact on inflation forecasts. This could strengthen the credibility of the forward guidance message, but this is just rhetoric — a rate cut would require a rejection of the current recovery hypothesis. They expect more focus on low inflation at this press conference, albeit without pre-empting the ECB staff new macroeconomic forecasts that will be published in December.

Google's Schmidt Blasts "Outrageous", "Illegal" Domestic NSA Spying

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt is the latest to admit he is shocked, shocked, to learn there was spying going on in here. In an interview with the WSJ  "bristled" at the recent report that the U.S. government has spied on the company's data centers, describing such an act as "outrageous" and potentially illegal if proven. Then again, since the NSA's domestic espionage is effectively unchecked expect by a secret FISA court which approves virtually every spying request, the legality of the NSA's activity has little relevance but merely confirms what Snowden wrote in his "manifesto", in which he correctely noted that he has opened a long overdue debate over the meaning of civil liberties and lack thereof in the age of the authoritarian superspying big brother state.

Frontrunning: November 4

  • Investors are stampeding into initial public offerings at the fastest clip since the financial crisis (WSJ)
  • Kerry hails disgruntled Saudi Arabia as important U.S. ally (Reuters)
  • SAC Capital prepares for a second life (FT)
  • BlackBerry's Fate Goes Down to the Wire (WSJ)
  • Dutch Gamble on U.S. Housing Debt After Patience Wins (BBG)
  • U.S. Wants Broad Divestitures From AMR, US Airways (WSJ)
  • Tensions with allies rise, but U.S. sees improved China ties (Reuters)
  • China berates foreign media for Tiananmen attack doubts (Reuters)
  • China manufacturers squeezed as costs rise (FT)
  • European Borders Tested as Money Is Moved to Shield Wealth (NYT)
  • Zurich Probe Finds No ‘Undue Pressure’ Put on Late CFO (BBG)

Goldilocks PMIs Mean Another Overnight Meltup To Start The Week

Just as Friday ended with a last minute meltup, there continues to be nothing that can stop Bernanke's runaway liquidity train, and the overnight trading session has been one of a continuing slow melt up in risk assets, which as expected merely ape the Fed's balance sheet to their implied fair year end target of roughly 1900. The data in the past 48 hours was hot but not too hot, with China Non-mfg PMI rising from 55.4 to 56.3 a 14 month high (and entirely made up as all other China data) - hot but not too hot to concern the PBOC additionally over cutting additional liquidity -  while the Eurozone Mfg PMI came as expected at 51.3 up from 51.1 prior driven by rising German PMI (up from 51.1 to 51.7 on 51.5 expected), declining French PMI (from 49.8 to 49.1, exp. 49.4), declining Italian PMI (from 50.8 to 50.7, exp. 51.0), Spain up (from 50.7 to 50.9, vs 51.0 expected), and finally the UK construction PMI up from 58.9 to 59.4.

Figuring Out The Fed

Since 2008, the Federal Reserve has been trying one program after the other in order to kick-start the US economy. It culminated in currently buying around $1 trillion of bonds a year. But economic growth remains weak. Why does the Fed continue its ultra-lax monetary policy despite evidence it doesn't help much? The people at the Fed are not stupid, so there must be a rational explanation. This is an attempt to figure out their 'game plan'.

Event Risk: Down But Not Out

The German election is over and the confrontation over the US debt ceiling has ended, so event risk should be minimal, right? Not so fast, UBS' Mike Schumacher warns - plenty of pitfalls could trip markets. Forward-looking measures of 'risk' are beginning to show some signs of less-than-exuberance reflected in all-time-highs across all US equity indices and if previous episodes of 'low-vol' are any guide, the current complacency is long in the tooth... no matter how 'top-heavy' stocks become; bloated by the flow of heads-bulls-win-tails-bears-lose ambivalence...

Guest Post: Yellenomics – Or The Coming Tragedy of Errors

The philosophical roots of Janet Yellen's economics voodoo, it seems, are in many ways even more appalling than the Bernanke paradigm (which in turn is based on Bernanke's erroneous interpretation of what caused the Great Depression, which he obtained in essence from Milton Friedman). The following excerpt perfectly encapsulates her philosophy (which is thoroughly Keynesian and downright scary): Fed Vice Chairman Yellen laid out what she called the 'Yale macroeconomics paradigm' in a speech to a reunion of the economics department in April 1999. "Will capitalist economies operate at full employment in the absence of routine intervention? Certainly not," said Yellen, then chairman of President Bill Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers. "Do policy makers have the knowledge and ability to improve macroeconomic outcomes rather than make matters worse? Yes," although there is "uncertainty with which to contend." She couldn't be more wrong if she tried. We cannot even call someone like that an 'economist', because the above is in our opinion an example of utter economic illiteracy.

Ebay Expands Accepted Digital Currencies, Says PayPal May One Day Incorporate BitCoin

First it was China hinting that where Silk Road failed in monetizing, pardon the pun, BitCoin, the world's most populous nation could soon take the lead. Then, none other than private equity titan Fortress said it had great expectations for the digital currency. Now, it is eBay's turn to announce that it is preparing to expand the range of digital currencies it accepts, adding that "its payment unit PayPal may one day incorporate BitCoin." But not just yet. FT reports that according to eBay CEO John Donahoe, "digital currency is going to be a very powerful thing."

Buying Time In A Brought-Forward World... And Why There Is No Plan B

Here we go again, creating another asset bubble for the third time in a decade and a half, is how Monument Securities' Paul Mylchreest begins his latest must-read Thunder Road report. As Eckhard Tolle once wrote, “the primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it," and that seems apt right now. After Lehman, policy makers went “all-in” on bailouts/ZIRP/QE etc. This avoided an “all-out” collapse and bought time in which a self-sustaining recovery could materialize. The Fed’s tapering threat showed that, five years on from Lehman, the recovery was still not self-sustaining. Mylchreest's study of long-wave (Kondratieff) cycles, however, leaves us concerned as to whether it ever will be. More commentators are having doubts; and the problem looming into view is that we might need a new "plan." The (rhetorical) question then is "Have we really got to the point where it's just about more and more QE, corralling more and more flow into the equity market until it becomes (unsustainably) 'top-heavy'?"

Guest Post: Finland's Gold

On Wednesday Finland gave in to public pressure and revealed where she stores her gold reserves. The statement followed a press release by the Bank of Sweden on similar lines released on Monday. All was 'normal' until the head of communications added some more color on what exactly the Finnish central bank does with its gold..."half of the gold has been within investment activity over the years. Gold has been invested among other things in deposits similar to money market deposits and using gold interest rate swaps. Gold investment activity is common for central banks." The evidence is mounting that Western central banks through the Bank of England have been feeding monetary gold into the market through leasing operations. This explains in part how the voracious appetite for gold by China, India and South-East Asia is being satisfied, without the gold price rising to reflect this demand.

Michael Woodford Warns "By Blinking [On Taper], [The Fed] Has Made A Negative Reaction More Likely"

Widely credited with being the seminal paper at the 2012 Jackson Hole conference and setting the scene for "threshold-based" policy, Michael Woodford discusses his views on the costs and benefits of "forward guidance" in this Goldman Sachs interview. The Columbia professor explains how he thinks about asset purchases versus forward guidance (it’s a mistake to think of asset purchases as a way to avoid having to talk about future policy intentions), and why the market and the Fed have seemed so disconnected at various points this year despite substantial attempts by the Fed to communicate more clearly (there were mistakes in communication, but that does not mean the situation would have been better if the Fed had instead kept its mouth shut, especially in such unprecedented times.) Ultimatley he warns, "by blinking when they did, I fear that they have made a negative reaction more likely in the future, because they are now back to square one, with people once again lacking a clear sense of how close the Fed is to tapering and thus vulnerable to surprise."

Guest Post: What Has Changed In Spain?

Despite the country’s macro figures and a budget which assumes that 30% of the country’s spending next year will go to debt interest payments, how is it possible that we are suddenly being bombarded with wonderful news about Spain’s current situation – no longer at a cross roads – and colorful future? Several things have happened, we think. First, the public wants to hear nice things because they are tired of hearing the bad; so if they want good stories, they’ll get them; second, time references have changed; and finally, the divorce between the people and their representatives has consummated. The government tells its stories while the people perceive a different reality. Yet this matters little. What matters is making it through tomorrow. And if to make it through tomorrow the government has to go back on its words and say it meant differently from what it said not long ago, so be it.

Things That Make You Go Hmmm... Like India's 'Gold Refuge' From "The Establishment"

Westerners aren't used to the kind of inflation levels, government confiscation, and currency volatility so common in places like India; and so the need to own gold as protection isn't fully appreciated in the West. Westerners pay lip service to gold's being "an inflation hedge" or "a currency" or "a safe asset", but these terms are used in an extremely abstract way by the vast majority of the investing public, who see gold as mostly just another trading vehicle. India's love affair with gold is well-understood in Asia but completely misunderstood in the West — a phenomenon we have always found fascinating — but recently it has become abundantly clear that this disconnect is widening almost daily as the Western fixation with 'The Gold Price' and the Eastern obsession with 'The Price of Gold' take ever more divergent paths... In short, Asians like their gold to be heavy, shiny, and made of ... well, gold.

Guest Post: The Noble Lie Of Government Healthcare

“If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.”

These words, spoken by U.S. President Barack Obama in various forms and iterations, have become a running joke amidst the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. All across the country, hundreds of thousands of citizens are receiving cancellation notices in the mail. The stringent requirements for insurance plans under the new edict are curtailing many individual policies. A simpleton can grasp the economics: you prohibit something, it goes away. And yet, for years prior, the White House ignored the oncoming train and is now slowly inching away from the wreckage.

This was not the unforeseen consequence of good-intentioned legislation.

Show Me The Lack Of Money: Global Corporate Cash Flow Slides To 2009 Levels

The last time we looked at global corporate cash flow and capex as a percentage of G4 (US, UK, Europe and Japan) things were bad. Two quarters later, things have gotten much worse, with that purest proxy of true growth, or lack thereof, corporate cash flow (and not fudged, adjusted, normalized, pro forma earnings), sliding yet again tracking the ongoing collapse in capex, and now down to levels last seen during 2009, and what's worse going further back, all the way back to 2003 levels. In other words, even when taking into account the tens of trillions of liquidity injections by global central banks to prop up capital markets, the flow through to actual corporate cash flow has been non-existent, and the entire past decade is now a scratch despite the global asset price bubble rising to unprecedented new heights.

Edward Snowden Releases "A Manifesto For The Truth"

While Edward Snowden may be reviled at the top echelons of Western developed nations and is wanted in his native US on espionage charges for peeling back the curtain on how the gargantuan government machine truly works when it is not only engaged in chronic spying on anyone abroad, but worse, on its own people, the reality is that his whistleblowing revelations have done more to shift the narrative to the topic of dwindling individual liberties abused pervasively in the US and elsewhere, than anything else in recent years. And alongside that, have led to the first reform momentum of a system that is deeply broken. Which also happens to be the topic of a five-paragraph opinion piece he released today in German weekly Der Spiegel titled "A Manifesto For The Truth" in which he writes that his revelations have been useful and society will benefit from them and that he was therefore justified in revealing the methods and targets of the US secret service.