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#1 In Tentacle Selection: 300,000 People Applied To Goldman Sachs In The Past Two Years; 4% Were Hired

It may not be quite the entire 1% but it is close. In his presentation to Bank of America on Tuesday, when discussing "talent (or tentacle) retention, Lloyd Blankfein disclosed this whopper: "Almost 300,000 individuals applied for full-time positions at Goldman Sachs for 2010 and 2011. We hired fewer than 4% of that population, and, though most had multiple offers, nine out of ten people offered a job with us accepted." In other words, it is more difficult to get into Goldman than Harvard. As a reminder, the US labor force has 140 million people at last count (or, coming from the BLS, rough propaganda guess). In other words, more than 0.2% of the entire US employed workforce (because let's face it, Goldman won't hire anyone without prior experience) applied to work at Goldman Sachs. And by the retention rating, it seems that the number one dream for every job seeker in the US is to get the fat letter from Goldman HR. Speaking of training, we also get this pearl from Lloyd: "This year, we expect to provide 800,000 hours of training to our people, an average of 25 hours per person." Just what is it that these people are taught so intensely?

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Guest Post: The Reasons For China's Imminent Bust

The global dominant narrative about China is wrong, claims Gordon Chang. Don't expect it to be the 'pocketbook of last resort' that will rescue world markets from their current malaise. And don't expect its remarkable economic growth to continue. In fact, expect a "hard landing" for China - and soon. Gordon sees the first real signs of slowdown in China's economic growth looking at the year-over-year numbers for the past several months as the inevitable harbingers of a coming collapse in China due to excessive stimulus policies the government undertook starting in 2009. The bubbles and malinvestment created by this stimulus have not been addressed, and increasing weakness and transitions inside the political system are making it less likely they will be before market forces intervene.

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These Are Not The ETFs You Are Looking For...But This IS A Margin Call

Presenting, with little comment but complete and utter bewilderment, the latest margin hike and ETF changes. Direxion ETFs just changed the 'fund' mandates from 2x to 3x on a number of their more popular products - which of course, given the extra vol, will mean significant margin hikes from any broker you trade with...curiouser and curiouser.

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Disquietingly Calm End To Calamitous Week

The middle of the week appeared to be the storm before the quiet of today before the potential storm of next week with aggressive action by the ECB this morning seeming to calm fears (and raise hopes of more) as risk assets were generally calmer today. Amid dismally low volumes, ES ended the day very marginally lower (led by Tech and Energy), commodities were mixed, IG credit outperformed TSYs and HY credit, and FX vacillated back to unchanged in general capping another week of strengthening USD vs the Majors (except JPY). US equities shrugged off a broad risk-off shift early in the day (driven by Oil and TSYs mainly) as OPEX seemed the focus of controlling intraday vol with CONTEXT and ES closing the week in almost perfect agreement (leaving cash S&P -3.3% YTD vs Gold +21.3% YTD).

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Squid Vs Merkel

As the hopes and prayers of every European central banker (and long-only manager) rest on age old battles; 'good vs evil', 'woman vs man', 'Germans vs the-rest-of-us', we found today's helpful note from The House Of Squid very amusing. Goldman, in their puppet-masterly way, suggest (in an ever so logical manner) that perhaps Mrs. Merkel should allow for the print-fest and provide their right-hand man Draghi with the ammo he needs to have that discussion.

"There are no easy choices and it would have been, no doubt, better if the ECB had never got in the position it is in now. But the current situation demands a careful weighing of the risk involved with any decision taken. The inflationary risk thereby seems to be getting an unduly high weight in the consideration of German policy makers."

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Senator Coburn Presents "Subsidies Of The Rich And Famous"

As the super-committee seems more and more likely to hit a brick-wall, we present with no comment, Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma's 'helpful' prose.

Americans are generous and do not want to see their fellow citizens go without basic necessities. Likewise, we expect everyone to contribute and to demonstrate personal responsibility. Government policies intended to mainstream wealth redistribution are undermining these principles. The tragic irony is the wealth in these cases is trickling up rather than down the economic ladder. The cost of this largess will thus be shared by those struggling today and the next generation who will inherit $15 trillion of debt that threatens the future of the American Dream. These consequences are the results of shortsighted spending and tax policies like those outlined in this report that should be eliminated.

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Guest Post: MF Global: Was It A Hit?

Imagine you are Ben Bernanke, or on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. The time frame is July and August of 2011 and the price of gold is on a tear. Commodities inflation has been persistent and is breaking out everywhere. Your prediction that inflation “is contained” and is a “temporary phenomena” are beginning to look absurd. What do you do? Simple. Hint that QE3, the primary drive of inflation, is coming and then fail to deliver at the September FOMC meeting. That takes care of the price of gold and the gold stocks. Ah, but those pesky commodities speculators keep making money and trading against what you want the markets to do. So what is to be done there? Hey Jon Corzine, how about you tank the largest broker for the small commodities punters in the world, and we let them twist in the wind? That will serve them right. Teach them to bet against the government approved scenario.

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Clearwire Down 28% As Firm Mulls 'Skipping' Interest Payment

CLWR faces $474mm in interest expense for the next 4 years so 'skipping' this interest payment shouldn't be a problem, right? $7.93bn in principal and interest and a $1.5bn market cap (well before today that is) - all is well in the HY wireless broadband market. Paging ISDA...

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Ireland: "Germany Is Our New Master"

Not only is Germany at the epicentre of the Italian-Spanish-French save-us 'discussion', they have now managed to add Ireland to their 'Uber Alles'. Reuters is reporting the leak of confidential Irish budget information by German lawmakers and Irish parliamentarians are seething - viewing the leak as 'incredible' and 'unprecedented'. Given the new laws, Germany now has the right to be fully informed about bailout countries' progress before new tranches of funds are paid out. As the Irish Daily Mirror put it perfectly "Germany is ourt new master." It is evidently clear that sovereignty is indeed blurring at the edges - cue Nigel Farage.

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David Rosenberg: "The New Normal Is Seeing A Year's Worth Of Volatility Bunched Into 6 ½ Hours!"

Dramamine market got you down? You are not alone. David Rosenberg explains: "Yesterday's trade was rather telling. The Nasdaq dropped 2% and not only did volume rise but the breadth was awful with losers beating winners by a 5-to-2 margin (9-to-2 on the NYSE). The fact that the Nasdaq sliced below support of 2,600 and dipped below its 50-day moving average for the first time in six weeks is a bit ominous to say the least; while the S&P 500 undercut its lows of the past four weeks (even though it has managed to hold above the 50-day m.a. of 1,205). But between the slide in equities, commodities, oil and gold, coupled with the rally in Treasuries, yesterday had a certain eerie 2008 feel to it. And did you see the huge 70 point rally in the Dow just in the last couple of minutes? The volatility is incredible. Look at the charts below — they look the same, but one is the Dow's closing level each day this year and the other is the minute to minute ticker on any random session (we chose October 7th out of the hat). The new normal is seeing a year's worth of volatility bunched into 6 ½ hours!"

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RANsquawk Weekly Wrap - Stocks, Bonds, FX – 18/11/11

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SocGen's Grice Joins Crowded ECB-Print-Demanders Citing 'He Who Devalues First, Wins'

It is no surprise that everyone's attention, hopes and dreams, are now on the shoulders of a principled and sensible Bundesbank as they fight-the-good-fight against a torrent of seemingly-sensible print-baby-print commentators (and politicians). Of course, if they did the equity markets would rally (despite the circular EUR weakness, correlated equity weakness, equity strength on we-are-all-saved, EUR strength game theory response) and the trade would be equity to outperform credit (as we've seen before). The pragmatist might argue that this is not a solution, but interestingly Dylan Grice of SocGen, suggests that as opposed to prospectively common-knowledge (and Germany's anti-Weimar reputation), the notion to devalue first, does best and maybe it is time for the ECB to take that plunge. This is somewhat opposed to his previous views on the path to hyperinflation (as akin to being half-pregnant) and our perspective remains that once the ECB starts, how will they ever stop?

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Guest Post: Is It A Good Time To Invest In Pipeline Companies?

Let's begin by positioning the sector. Investing in a pipeline company is similar to investing in a utility: Like electricity providers, pipeline companies operate in heavily regulated environments, and once they are up and running, pipeline operators enjoy stable cash flows from long-term contracts. In an economy where uncertainty is the new norm and speculation is a more dangerous game than usual, investors are gravitating toward income-generating investments. However, it's not only the current economy that's pushing investors toward defensive stocks. As US baby boomers retire, they tend to reduce the risk levels in their investments and move toward steady-as-she-goes, income-generating stocks. Unfortunately, those two forces also mean that many of these defensive stocks are trading between 14 to 20 times forward earnings, putting them at the higher end of their historical range. More on that in a bit.

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Damn It Doesn't Feel Good To Be A Bankster... At Least Not At Goldman Sachs

Who would have thought that doing away with your prop trading unit would have consequences? Surely not Goldman spokesman Lucas van Praag or anyone who read his response to Zero Hedge from December 2009 in which he made the argument that Goldman's prop trading unit is largely irrelevant to the firm. Alas, as the last quarter showed, it was. A lot. $2.5 billion worth. Net result: GS stock is now trading at imminent MBO levels, and more importantly, there is no joy in bankerville:


However as the video below proves, it still does, and always will, feel good to be a banker.

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The Doomsday Klein Bottle: Charting Who Owes What To Whom (Hint: Lots And Everyone)

Some version of the following BIS-sourced chart from the BBC appears every week somewhere, and by now the default Pavlovian reaction to seeing it should be to think of the Klein bottle. Yet this one may be the prettiest so far. In case anyone was still wondering what happens in a world in which every financial asset is someone else's liability, and that same liability is a third bank's asset (and so on), and where the amounts involved are in the tens of trillions, and when even the smallest debt haircut starts an avalanche of remarking to market, here is the explanation. Oh, and whatever you do, don't click on the US. Because the "US is fine."

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!