It has not been a good day for New Jersey. First, governor Christie dared to tell the truth (i.e., that the state could go bankrupt on increasing... yes you read that right - INcreasing - health care costs) which pretty much cost the state a successful bond auction as we reported earlier, and now we find that one of the casualties in today's Coinstar collapse is none other than the State of New Jersey, which owns a (less than) whopping 460,000 shares. Granted the loss for NJ is only $8.2 million but it is never nice to kick a man down as he is on the very of insolvency. The table below shows all the biggest losers in today's after hours wipe out in Coinstar. Notably, at position 4, is Jim O'Neill's latest fiefdom, Goldman Sachs Asset Management, which continues to live up to its reputation of one of the worst asset managers on Wall Street.
According to a loosely-organized apocalyptic Christian movement, May 21, 2011 will be the "end of days." On or about that same date, the price of oil in the United States will begin to climb to $4 a gallon, according to two savants of the oil industry. The former is highly unlikely but the latter is very probable. The escalation in the price of oil is predicted by the legendary oil man T. Boone Pickens, known for his financial acuity as well as his oil expertise, and John Hofmeister, who retired as president of Shell Oil Company, to sound the alarm about the rate of U.S. consumption of oil. In an interview with a trade publication, Hofmeister predicted that oil would rise to $4 a gallon this year and to $5 a gallon in the election year 2012. Separately, Pickens—who has been leaning on Congress to enact an energy policy that would switch large trucks and other commercial vehicles from imported oil to domestic natural gas—predicts that oil currently selling for just over $90 a barrel will go to $120 a barrel, with a concomitant price per gallon of $4 or more.
Who would have thought that such things as consumer wealth and cash actually matter for companies? After CSTR enjoyed a doubling of its stock price in the past year, it now appears many of these were based on the same thing that has driven the entire economy: hopium. The company has slashed Q4 revenue guidance from $415-440 to $391, and now sees EPS of $0.65 and $0.69 compared with guidance in the range of $0.79 to $0.85. Coming to pretty much every single consumer discretionary (ahem Netflix) stock near you.
Intel reports revenues of $11.46 billion on expectations of $11.36, with EPS coming at $0.59 on expectations of $0.53 and whisper number of $0.56. After a kneejerk reaction higher, the stock has pared back gains and is now about $0.20 cents higher. Earlier, it was reported that INTC Put contracts had risen to a 10 year high of 323,825 so there likely is quite a substantial short base in the name.
We call it chart of the day, but it could just as easily be the chart of the century, as this one chart, presented courtesy of Sean Corrigan of Diapason Securities, captures without a shadow of doubt the revolutionary regime change that occurred in US (and global) capital markets with the advent of cheap credit policy in the aftermath of America's near brush with hyperinflation in the early 1980s. The chart demonstrates the "great regime change" that occurred some time in the 1980s-90s, and confirms that whereas inflation used to be the biggest threat to equity returns (and thus stock prices), as can be seen by the inverse correlation between the S&P and bond yields in the 1962-1974 period (note the UST10 yield is inverted for this period), this correlation flipped in the late '90s and and 2000s, and it has become a direct correlation. In other words, whereas before a surge in yields (and thus a drop in bond prices) would cause stocks to drop, now we see a stock market which correlates directly with yields (and inversely with prices). As Corrigan summarizes: "T-Bonds used to trade with, but now trade against equities. Growth, not inflation, is the limiting factor in the market's calculations."
I've got a bad feeling that the Great Intervention Rally of 2009 - 2011 is about to hit an iceberg. January 2011 is eerily reminiscent of January 2000. Ignoring warning signs of being overheated and overloved, the stock market rose month after month, defying doubters. With 12,000 within one good day's run, the Dow reached 11,908 in the week of January 10, 2000, and then rolled over. The next week it sprinted again for 12,000, hitting 11,834, but alas, the mighty advance was over. The S&P 500 topped out a few months later and then started down a relentless three-year slide. I sense a dislocation coming in global markets.
During today's little CNBC circlejerk shindig, Ben Bernanke, in defense of his disastrous, and now deadly policies, once again confirmed that the (one and only) benefit from QE2 has been to boost stock prices. Oddly enough, there was no mention of surging energy, food and commodity prices. Nor did Liesman ask the Chairman about 43.2 million Americans on foodstamps, just as he did not ask the dictator of the centralized ponzi for his comments on why at last count 50 people in Tunisia were dead protesting, among other, record food prices and cost of living.
Three days ago we noted that in just the first week of January, the US Mint had sold 2,221,000 ounces of silver "a number which if run-rated would be an absolutely all time monthly record" A quick glance at the tally today, shows that something very scary is going on. In the subsequent three days, the number has surged by 50% and has hit 3,407,000 ounces of silver! In just the first 12 days of the month we have already surpassed the total monthly sales of 9 separate months of 2010.
Illinois Seeks To Issue $8.75 Billion Bond To Pay Overdue Bills As Muni Issuance Market On Verge Of ShutdownSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/13/2011 - 14:54
While Illinois' desire to finally tackle its unsustainable fiscal situation is admirable, the process is starting to disclose some very stinky rot below the surface. On the heels of the recent hike in the corporate tax rate, today Bloomberg reports that governor Pat Quinn is asking lawmakers to authorize an $8.75 billion bond sale. The use of proceeds? To pay $6 billion in backlogged bills: read invoices that the state has been unable to pay so far due to what technically should be classified as a liquidity crunch, and non-technically as complete lack of cash. Luckily, entities that are owed money by the state at least have a chance to get paid. Earlier, state House of Representatives defeated a borrowing bill that was designed to
eliminate the pile of invoices that is at least five months old. The state's payment delinquency also includes pension funds: local underfunded pensions are owed almost $4 billion in payments by the state. In the meantime, Chicago CDS dropped on the news of the tax hike, declining from 28 bps to 300 yesterday, the lowest since December 9. Whether this means that the state will be able to find sufficiently stupid investors whose capital will go to nothing besides funding overdue invoices, is a totally separate matter however. Perhaps a good indication of the ravenous appetite for muni debt (in addition to the fresh 52 week low in virtually every single muni bond fund), is that the New Jersey agency has shrank the size of a proposed $1.2 billion refinancing offering by roughly 40% and hiked yields on the sale as it struggled to market bonds to investors on Thursday. As the secondary muni market is plunging, the primary market for issuance is on the verge of shutting down completely. Cue in QE3.
Today's $13 billion 30 year auction has priced on slightly worse terms than the last 30 year from December: the Bid To Cover came at 2.67, a decline from the prior 2.74, while the high yield printed at 4.515% (40.45% allotted at high), the highest since April 2010, compared to 4.41% in the last auction. The take down distribution was not notable, and unlike yesterday's 10 Year which saw that lowest PD take down on record, Primary Dealers bought just about half of the auction, or 49.9%, with 37.8% left for the Indirects, and 12.4% for the Directs. We are confident that just like all other recent auctions, the PDs will projctile vomit as much of this auction as they possibly can at the first opportunity, which incidentally is on January 20. Lastly, the bond priced wide of the When Issued, confirming that it could certainly have gone better.
History is littered with the carcasses of men that in their exaggerated hubris attempted to stop the forces of nature and the markets only to fall flat on their faces. We tell the stories of these men in history books and myths from prehistory, but it never stops men of successive generations from trying it all over again. What the current political class the world over (at the behest of Wall Street financial terrorists and other big corporate interests) are doing falls into the same exact formula of prior historical failures. Some of the historical figures that attempted to beat back nature were great warriors or kings that just reached too far. Some of them were evil megalomaniacs whose desire was nothing short of absolute power in their hands over any of the unfortunate human beings that happened to be in the way. Ben Bernanke is neither of these. He is a just a little dweeb with an electronic printing press. Tragically, because of modern technology and the way the monetary system works today he has the ability to cause more damage than any other one person in the history of mankind and he is doing it. I shudder to contemplate the ultimate effects of the inflationary holocaust he has unleashed on the six billion mesmerized and helpless souls present on earth at this time. The signs are starting to show up again just like in early 2008. Food is becoming scare at a “reasonable” price in many parts of the globe and the symptoms of this are starting to bubble up to the surface. For example in recent days we have witnessed food riots in Algeria and Tunisia where at least 14 people are reported to have died in each country. These types of events were easily predictable and have been predicted by people like me and many other whose views will never be seen in the mainstream media. Fortunately, the alternative media is taking over (which is why the Obama administration is certain to increase its crackdown on the internet) and people are becoming very informed and linked all over the world. The divide and conquer strategy that has worked so well for millennia will be much harder to pull off this time around.
The just reported death of three muni ETFs means that the ever creative developers of synthetic stock CDOs and other volatility indices have to think of even more creative ways to get retail to put their money into guaranteed profit products. Sure enough, the CME Group has just come up with one such product: the Gold Volatility Index Options (GVP) Contracts. From the press release: "Effective trade date Jan. 24, 2011, the Exchange will list a Gold Volatility Index (VIX) Options (GVP) contract for trading on CME Globex and for clearing through CME ClearPort. The Gold Volatility Index will be a 60-day forward looking index value on option implied volatility. Please note that fees will be waived through Jun. 30, 2011." Which means naturally that the CME is anticipating the ongoing spike in gold vol to persist. But if one were to listen to the ethically pristine gentlemen from the CFTC this morning, one would be left with the impression that there is no volatility in the gold space, and it is all in the eyes of the speculative beholders.
Who would have thought that all it takes for a proposed ETF to be pulled is a complete loss of faith in the underlying. Today, Vanguard has announced it has canceled plans for a short, intermediate and long-term muni ETFs. "We believe that this delay is prudent given the high level of volatility in the municipal bond market, which began in November 2010 and continues today," said John Woerth, spokesman for the Valley Forge, Pennsylvania-based firm. "This volatility could impede the funds' abilities to tightly track their respective benchmarks, deliver on the funds' objectives, and meet shareholders' expectations." Well, what if shareholders expectations were to short the ETFs? It would certainly meet that particular set of expectations.
The worst that might have happened - a systemic financial breakdown - did not happen, and we can be thankful for that. But the alternative has had costs that are only now becoming better appreciated. With constant bending of the rules, the only constant was that every bent rule favored the big banks, often uniquely so. With this special attention given to a favored few, the social mood darkened considerably among U.S. citizens, especially those far removed from the beneficial impacts of the Fed's largesse. Where states are struggling with extremely painful budget deficits measured in the single billions (in most cases), the Fed has been busy printing up and handing out some $75 billion per month to its coziest clients. While millions of people ran out of extended unemployment benefits and lost houses due to completely fraudulent and illegal banking practices, nothing was ultimately fixed and (seemingly) nobody went to jail or was charged with anything. Small, regional banks without access to unlimited and essentially free capital from the Fed are now forced to compete with big national banks that have been granted an unlimited backstop by the Fed. This is how too big to fail leads to too small to succeed.