Archive - Jan 26, 2011
AlpInvest Partners, Europe's largest private-equity investor, has been sold to Carlyle Group and the AlpInvest management in a move that looks set to shake up Europe's buyout landscape.
Entire towns exploded and collapsed based on where oil was discovered. One area only 15 miles from Titusville, Pennsylvania (where Drake first discovered oil) went from being unnoticeable on the map to a booming metropolis of 15,000 people and back again in one years’ time (the fifty hotels and other businesses that sprang up in that time were all gone within 24 months). Parcels of land went from a few dollars in value to $2 million and back again in less than a decade.
Watching Obama deliver his State of the Union Speech last night, reminded me of all the rah-rah quarterly meetings that we had to attend as Managing Directors at Goldman, where senior management would remind us all of how great we were, and if there were any areas of competitive weakness relative to our adversaries at other banks, all we had to do was step up our game, innovate and globalize (or something like that.) Obama wasn't delivering a summary of what has, or is, going on for most Americans last night, no such negative status report. And, if you didn't expect him to, he gave good speech - full of reminders of how it is America's destiny and the American dream to be great and powerful, "robust democracy" that we are. There was a massive pink elephant in the room called reality though....My reaction was wtf?
While the Fed refuses to extract its head from deep within the sand of ignorant hubris that only a career in Ivy League education can provide, the world continues to burn, in many places quite literally. For all those who are finding it hard to juggle all the rioting, and confuse their Cairos with their Calcuttas, below we present an interactive map disclosing all recent documented food price hikes, protests, and riots.
Tunisia’s uprising has democracy watchers wondering if the instability will spill over into neighboring North African countries, but really that instability is already there. In the first week of the year, Algeria experienced violent protests after the government hiked prices for staple foods like milk, sugar, oil, and flour. Some 800 people were injured in several days of rioting, prompting President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to cut costs on some foods and lower import duties on others. The rioters went home, but odds are they will return to the streets when prices rise again. But Algeria is not poor – an OPEC member, it is the ninth largest crude oil producer in the world. More importantly for this conversation, Algeria is the world’s sixth largest natural gas producer, pumping out just over 3 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas in 2008. At the beginning of 2010, the country’s proven natural gas reserves stood at 159 Tcf, the tenth largest in the world, and notably, Algeria exports some 3.6 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas each day to Europe. On top of the natural gas flowing to Europe through pipes, Algeria has become a key supplier of liquefied natural gas, or LNG. In 2008, Algeria exported 711 Bcf of LNG, and 90% of it went to Europe.
If there is one thing that the one-time GAO audit of the Fed disclosed, is how woefully insufficient the extremely superficial data discovery was. Another thing uncovered was just how needed this disclosure was: it provided extended material into how the Fed subsidizes banks (both domestic and international) on an ongoing basis, not to mention substantial number crunching for the blogosphere. Either way, if Bernanke was hoping that the Frank-Dodd bill would take care of the Fed opacity, pardon, transparency issue in perpetuity, he may be disappointed: Ron's son, Rand, has just announced he is introducing legislation to, well, Audit The Fed, precisely along the lines of what his father did previously and generated massive support from everyone in Congress. Once again Ben Bernanke is about to become a major thorn on the side of the political puppetry.
RANsquawk Market Wrap Up - Stocks, Bonds, FX etc. – 26/01/11
Netflix Misses On Revenue, Beats EPS, Free Subscriber Number Surges, $96 Million Cash Generated From NWC ChangeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/26/2011 17:18 -0400
Highlights from Netflix' earnings release:
- Subscribers – 20.01 million
- Net Subscriber Additions – 3.08 million
- Revenue – $596 million
- Operating Income – $78 million
- Net Income – $47 million
- EPS – $0.87 per diluted share
- Total subscribers: 20.01MM from 16.933MM Q/Q
- Paid subscribers increased by 2.4MM, from 15.863MM to 18.268MM
- Cancellations per month increase to 857K from 723K Q/Q
- Bust most importantly, free subscriberssurged from 1.070MM to 1.742MM. These are people who are not paying.
Too many investors want a magic elixir that guarantees outrageous profit with no risk, either to their pocket or their brain cells. But it does NOT have to be this way...
Last week, I was forwarded an analysis that really set me on end. According to a report by the American Enterprise Institute, public pensions are under funded by more than $3 trillion nationwide. Illinois pensions alone are $208 BILLION UNDERFUNDED using realistic measures. The overall level of funding is 29% --- the worst in the entire nation. Illinois SERS pensions at 23% of funding is $36 BILLION in arrears, Illinois teachers pensions at 28% of funding is $98 BILLION in arrears, Illinois Universities pensions at 30% of funding is $35 BILLION in arrears, Chicago Teachers pensions at 43% of funding is S16 BILLION in arrears, and Illinois municipal pensions at 47% of funding is $24 BILLION in arrears. To get this money, total population and corporations of the state will have to be taxed. This will not occur without a fight --- so Illinois is looking for an “out” from these obligations and also what it owes schools, health care providers, and nursing homes. Be prepared to get stiffed!
Wheat Futures At 29 Month High As Developing Country Demand Surges In Aftermath Of Tunisia RevolutionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/26/2011 16:42 -0400
Dow Jones reports that wheat futures just hit a 29-month highs on "strong global demand." Per the newswire, Algeria bought 800,000 tons of milling wheat, with traders estimating the nation's purchases for January at about 1.8M. Turkey and Jordan bought wheat last week after rising food prices helped fuel unrest in Tunisia. "They're saying, 'Boy we've got to eat. We don't know where wheat is going to be in a month,' says PFG Best. CBOT March wheat ends up 18 1/4c at $8.56 1/2 a bushel, while KCBT March climbs 22 1/2c to $9.40 and MGE March jumps 21c to $9.77. The chart below shows the UBS Bloomberg constant maturity Wheat index which confirms the vicious loop of what surging prices and geopolitical instability means to wheat prices. The higher the prices, the greater the scramble by developing (and soon developed) countries to acquire as much wheat as possible and hoard it, hoping to avoid Tunisia's fate, which of course will lead to even greater price surges. And all of this ignores the impact of the Goblin in Chief, whose money printing fetish has earned him, in our books, the adjective 'genocidal'. Once China figures out what is going on, and rice prices finally explode as we fully expect they will, the world will figure out just why...The only silver lining - soon farming will be the most profitable profession in the world. And as bankers only go where the money is, Bernanke's strategy may in fact lead to the first net natural outflow of bankers from Wall Street in history.
Everything is great!
Well, if you are a corporation, that is and that's all the matters in the United Corporations of America, right?
Several days ago we highlighted that wage inflation in China spreading after Shanghai announced it would hike minimum salaries by 10%. Today, through Global Times we learn that this is just the beginning. Or the continuation rather: it seems that 30 provinces had already hiked minimum wages in 2010: "By the end of 2010, 30 provincial-level regions had raised the standard for the minimum wage, with an average increase of 22.8 percent year-on-year., Yin Chengji, spokesman for the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MHRSS), said Tuesday. According to him, 29 provinces have issued the guideline for the minimum wages, and the benchmark line grew about 2 percent. In Shanghai, the local minimum wage was the highest nationwide, totaling 1,120 yuan ($170.2) per month." And 2011 will be even worse: " Also, according to a China Business News (CBN) report Tuesday, in 2011, many areas would continue to raise the standard. A Xinhua News Agency report Wednesday revealed that northern Chinese city of Tianjin is considering raising the minimum working wage by 16 percent this year amid rising inflationary pressure and labor shortages." We are confident America's workers will be delighted to know that Bernanke's massively destructive monetary policies are finally resulting in higher salaries... In China. But wait: this also means US consumer purchasing power is about collapse as since very soon all imported Made in China trinkets are about to get far more expensive as already razor thin margined China producers scramble to raise costs to their primary export market.
The world today is riddled with unique economic, political, and demographic risks. Finding attractively priced assets that will perform well in spite of these challenges is excruciatingly difficult. For investors, though, one segment of the market – the highest-quality stocks – still offers attractive risk-adjusted returns.