The one TBTF "bank" which unabashedly admits it is just a taxpayer backstopped hedge fund printing money for its owners (while supervising the NY Fed and all other central banks with various former employees in charge) with no actual lending or depository operations, Goldman Sachs, just hit it out of the park, when moments ago it reported Q1 earnings that smashed both top and bottom-line expectations, with revenues of $10.62 billion, up 13.8% from last year, and EPS of $6.00 printing far above the expected $9.31bn and $4.26. This was the best revenue generating quarter for Goldman since Q1 2011, or in four years.
- Euro zone bond yields sink to historic lows (Reuters)
- Clinton Foundation to Keep Foreign Donors (WSJ)
- Russia says U.S. forced it to act on Ukraine (Reuters)
- Bankers to China's Rescue (BBG)
- Saudi Arabia Adds Half a Bakken to Global Oil Market in a Month (BBG)
- Valuations of Hong Kong's stock market operator go interstellar (Reuters)
- Switzerland Attracts Fewer Firms as Politics Hurt Business Image (BBG)
Just as the S&P appeared set to blast off to a forward GAAP PE > 21.0x, here comes Greece and drags it back down to a far more somber 20.0x. The catalyst this time is an FT article according to which officials of now openly insolvent Greece have made an informal approach to the International Monetary Fund to delay repayments of loans to the international lender, but were told that no rescheduling was possible. The result if a drop in not only US equity futures which are down 8 points at last check, but also yields across the board with the German 10Y Bund now just single basis points above 0.00% (the German 9Y is now < 0), on its way to -0.20% at which point it will lead to a very awkward "crossing the streams" moment for the ECB.
Several years ago, Zero Hedge first, and to our knowledge only, reported that when it comes to unofficially executing trades in the equity market the NY Fed - through a slightly more than arms-length arrangement - does so using Chicago HFT powerhouse Citadel. In other words, while Citadel was instrumental in preserving the smooth, diagonal ramp in stocks since 2009 and igniting upward momentum just as everyone else stared to sell when the Markets Group of the NY Fed called, it was also paid handsomely: after all, nobody checks the Fed's broker commission statement. In fact according to some, indirect Fed compensation to what is the world's most leveraged hedge fund has been in the billions over the past decade. Well, now it's payback time, and as the NYT reported overnight, the Brookings Institution favorite blogger, former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, has joined none other than Citadel as an advisor.
WalMart has abruptly closed multiple stores across the country affecting an estimated 2,000 employees over the past several days citing "ongoing plumbing issues" which it will apparently take the company 6 months or more to fix. Interestingly, the stores are geographically distinct, and have nothing in common other than "clogs and leaks," and no plumbing permits have been obtained for any work.
The biggest star of today's ECB's press conference was not Mario Draghi but 21-year-old German feminist, Josephine Witt, an ex-Femen activist who jumped on Draghi's desk wearing an "ECB Dick-tatorship", a slogan she repeatedly screamed as she was led away by security guards. She threw paper copies of her demands at Mr Draghi, while showering him with confetti that were created from her finely chopped up manifesto. Who is Josephine Witt and what is her message?
Back in November we chronicled the (quiet) death of the Petrodollar, the system that has buttressed USD hegemony for decades by ensuring that oil producers recycled their dollar proceeds into still more USD assets creating a very convenient (if your printing press mints dollars) self-fulfilling prophecy that has effectively underwritten the dollar’s reserve status in the post WWII era. Now, with oil prices still in the doldrums, oil producers are selling off their USD assets in a frenzy threatening the viability of petrocurrency mercantilism and effectively extracting billions in liquidity from the system just as the Fed prepares to hike rates.
The following clip seemed to sum up perfectly just what The PBOC is attempting to do (and just exactly how it will end). With Chinese equities entirely decoupled from any sense of fundamentals, elementary-school-educated people piling their life savings into a market that is up 100% YoY amid the worst economic conditions in a decade or more, and margin trading that is surging (and now being probed - as Reuters reports, PBOC Shanghai has asked banks to check margin trading risks); how could anything go wrong?
"Financial markets are treating the risks around Greek exit with too little regard for the probable dangers," UBS says. Put simply, bond yields don't matter, meaning that ECB-controlled sovereign spreads can't possibly be taken as a serious indicator when it comes to assessing the contagion risk from a possible Grexit. What matters are bank runs because to the degree depositors feel that redenomination risk is real, everything else goes out the window and the lines start to form at the doors of periphery banks.
March was a record month for CLO issuance with $15.2 billion in deals coming to market, bringing the YTD total to $29 billion and making Q1 2015 the best first quarter in history for CLO new issue volume. And while a JPM analyst who spoke to Bloomberg says managers “want to get deals done early before risk retention kicks in,” we're confident that it’s all about keeping credit flowing to deserving borrowers and not at all about a desire to keep exposure to 5% of a collateral pool littered with loans to “companies that are of lower credit quality or that do not have a third-party evaluation of the likelihood of timely payment of interest and repayment of principal” off of the books.
On March 16, 1936, the government of the United States published the very first edition of the Federal Register - which would contain a complete set of every rule, regulation, code, and proposal issued by each of the executive agencies. The first edition was sixteen pages. Every single work day since then, without fail, the government has published the Federal Register. President Obama has averaged nearly 80,000 pages per year, far and away the highest of any President in US history. We've seen this theme countless times throughout history.
During a Q&A this evening, Richmond Fed's Jeffrey Lacker unleashed a stream of what can only be described as total idiocy:
*LACKER: INDICATORS POINT TO NEED TO RAISE RATES THIS YEAR (US macro data is the worst since Lehman?)
*LACKER: I'M UNDETERRED BY RECENT WEAKNESS IN DATA, "CAN'T GO ON FOREVER" (Hope is a strategy?)
*LACKER: DON'T EXPECT UNUSUAL MARKET VOLATILITY AROUND RATE RISE (because the Taper Tantrum went well?)
These are the people that the world trusts to centrally plan the world? The people that are there to 'save' investors at the merest downtick in stocks? They seriously have no clue whatsoever!!
While the world gasped last night when China's production-based, and goalseeked GDP number came in at 7.0% - the lowest in 6 years the truly scary numbers were in the details, which revealed unprecedented deterioration. Details which suggest China is now growing at a 1.6% annual pace: the lowest in modern history.
EURUSD just exploded 80 pips higher as Japanese markets opened (once again for no good reason - just like DAX at the EU close). No ther markets are moving with it (as both spot and futures are poked higher on relatively heavy overnight volume). We assume this is just the machines over at Virtu (which IPO'd at a $19 price tonight) celebrating... after all they said the FX market was the next to be rigged by them (allegedly)...