Archive - Feb 2011
China Forced To Deny It Will Experience HYPERinflation In 2011, As Russia Unexpectedly Hikes Interest RatesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/28/2011 23:44 -0500
And now for this evening's stunner, via Dow Jones. "There won't be hyperinflation in China this year, the state-run China Securities Journal reported Tuesday, citing Yao Jingyuan, the chief economist of the National Bureau of Statistics. The abundant stocks of grains and main agricultural products in China are key factors in stabilizing consumer prices, the newspaper quoted Yao as saying. China's consumer price index rose 4.9% in January from a year earlier, picking up from December's 4.6%." So putting aside what official denial means about the validity of a story, not to mention this utterly bizzare and completely out of left field statement, China's best and only reason why it won't have hyperinflation is that it has "abundant stocks of grains and agricultural products."... We can, at best, hope that this has to be some early version of an April Fool's joke, or else things are truly far worse than anyone expected. Also, just where does China put the threshold cut off on "hyper" - 10%? 20%? 50%? Is it at least safe to say that China may well experience mega, turbo, or nitrous inflation (and we generously put all three terms to the left of "hyper" on the X-axis)?
Earlier today, we reported that the US military is in the process of repositioning its forces in the area around Libya "to be able to provide flexibility and options." And while we have yet to get an updated US naval map for this week (the last one can be found here), it appears that the USS Enterprise which was previously on its way to the Straits of Hormuz has made a 180 and has now backtracked completely through the Red Sea and is now once again north of the Suez, where it has joined the big deck amphibious warfare ship Kearsarge. This means that the USS Vinson is again left alone to protect the highly combustible gulf region, which now includes both Bahrain and Oman, in addition to Yemen and of course Iran and Saudi, on revolutionary watch. It may be time to send Abraham Lincoln, which in turn is patrolling the South China Sea, back to the Persian Gulf as the possibility of a flashpoint escalation there is far greater than around Indonesia (which however would leave all of Korea and China unguarded). Keep an eye out on CVN 74 and 76 - Stennis and Reagan. If those two start making a move west, then next steps can be extrapolated quite easily.
The Empire is stirring. You may not notice it initially and you may not care yet: in time you will.
Nothing new for regulars here. Yet the fact that CNBC, following Cramer's endorsement of gold, is now apparently pushing silver on retail is very troubling: can't the fast money crew just stick with pitching Netflix or some other widowmaker to their demographic. That said, since per Nielsen, said demo did not even register in recent surveys, we are not all that concerned. That said, the people still demand Doug Kass to appear with an immediate rebuttal how he is all in short silver, just to neutralize the suddenly disconcerting feng shui.
A Look At The Lawsuit Against Michael Lewis, In Which We Find That Brad Pitt Has Bought The Movie Right To "The Big Short"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/28/2011 20:26 -0500
Earlier today, some hilarious news hit the tape after it was made public that disgraced CDO trader Wing Chau has decided to go nuclear and sue Michael Lewis and Steve Eisman due to their all too honest representation of the Harding Advisory asset manager, in Lewis' book "The Big Short" (not spared from the lawsuit was even book publisher W.W. Norton). "Michael Lewis was sued by Wing Chau, president and principal of Harding Advisory LLC, who accused the writer of defaming him in his 2010 book. The book "depicts Mr. Chau as someone who ignored his professional responsibilities, made misrepresentations to investors, charged money for work that was not performed, had no stake in the CDOs he managed, was incompetent or reckless in carrying out his responsibilities, and violated his fiduciary duties by putting the interests of 'Wall Street bond trading desks' above those of his investors." It appears that Chau missed at least one additional defendant: Jody Shenn of Bloomberg, who in 2010 wrote a scathing article titled "How Wing Chau Helped Neo Default in Merrill CDOs Under SEC View" which provided just as damning and just as accurate a portrait of the (allegedly) pathologically greedy manager who presided at the "center of an epidemic of conflicts of interest." And while we present the key highlights from Shenn's piece which is a must read for anyone interested in what will surely be a recurring drama in the coming months (the Michael Lewis op-ed repartees will be worth the price of admission alone), what appears to have forced Chau to take this career ending step (sorry Wing, no more AUM for you) is that he is about to hit the silver screen. In the full lawsuit we read that "Brad Pitt's production company, Plan B Entertainment Inc., has bought the movie rights and is working with Paramount Pictures Corporation to produce [The Big Short] film." Well isn't that special...
Is PIMCO The Fed's "Agent Provocateur" In Scuttling Billions In Legal Putback Claims Against JP Morgan And Bank Of America?Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/28/2011 19:44 -0500
Perhaps it is time for JP Morgan to revise its estimate for putback liability claims. As a reminder back in October, it was none other than JP Morgan which said: "We estimate putback risk to be approximately $23-$35bn for agency mortgages, $40-80bn in non-agency and roughly $20-30bn for second liens and HELOCs. However, there are a number of reasons why these estimates are on the high end, including losses already taken and loss reserves established." Well, there appear to be a number of reasons of why these estimates may have been on the very low end as well, the first one being that the bank itself just announced "it faces up to $4.5 billion in legal losses, in excess of its established litigation reserves, should its worst-case legal scenario occur." And if JP Morgan is seeing billion more in putback exposure, then what should Bank of Countrywide Lynch say, which just reported that the amount of debt which is being put against the firm for fraud of various types has just doubled from $46 billion to $84 billion. Luckily, according to a DebtWire report, PIMCO and BlackRock are actively doing the Fed's bidding in attempting to form a splinter group within the putback litigants and to settle with BofA for a nominal charge. Will the Fed be once again successful at subverting justice?
Should the U.S. ban oil imports [except Canada] for energy security and independence? At least that's the policy proposed by a study group at Yale.
These are the times that try men's souls...
Chinese Treasury Holdings Revised $268 Billion Higher To $1.12 Trillion, Fed Still Top Holder Of US DebtSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/28/2011 16:36 -0500
Earlier, the Treasury International Capital website released its periodic update/refinement of Treasury holdings. Not surprisingly, the most impacted holders were China and the "UK" which as we had previously speculated was nothing but a custodian front for Chinese institutional accumulation. China, which according to the most recent TIC data, owned $891.6 billion in Treasurys as of December 31, is now said to hold $1,160 billion, an adjustment of $268 billion. This upward revision came almost exclusively at the expense of the UK, which saw its holdings decline by $269 billion, in other words a nearly dollar for dollar shift between the UK and China. Japan, the third largest holder, was virtually unchanged at $882.3 billion compared to $883.6 billion pre revision. Oil exporters also saw a modest drop to $212 billion from $218 billion previously (all numbers as of December 31). Still, even with this adjustment, the Fed continues to be, and likely will never be surpassed, at the top position in terms of Treasury Holdings.
In a January 2009 ABC interview with George Stephanopoulos, then President-elect Barack Obama said fixing the economy required shared sacrifice, "Everybody’s going to have to give. Everybody’s going to have to have some skin in the game." For the past two years, American workers submitted to the President’s appeal—taking steep pay cuts despite hectic productivity growth. By contrast, corporate executives have extracted record profits by sabotaging the recovery on every front—eliminating employees, repressing wages, withholding investment, and shirking federal taxes. Washington’s embrace of labor market flexibility ensured companies encountered little resistance when they launched their brutal recovery plans. Leading into the recession, the US had the weakest worker protections against individual and collective dismissals in the world, according to a 2008 OECD study. Blackrock’s Robert Doll explains, “When the markets faltered in 2008 and revenue growth stalled, U.S. companies moved decisively to cut costs—unlike their European and Japanese counterparts.” The U.S. now has the highest unemployment rate among the ten major developed countries.
RANsquawk Market Wrap Up - Stocks, Bonds, FX etc. – 28/02/11
Dear Minister, Congratulations on your new appointment. As you read the civil service briefings on the present crisis, you will come to appreciate that Ireland's problems would be much easier to manage if your administration could choose the country's own exchange rate and interest rate. However, your officials and your colleagues may believe that there is no practical way to leave the present European monetary union and so achieve this flexibility. In fact, there is. Leaving the euro is politically tricky and economically costly in the short-term. But it is far from impossible. The long-term advantages clearly outweigh the short-term costs, and the politics can be managed. The following outlines how it can be done...
The US crackdown on its former business partner continues, with the US Treasury announcing it has "located and frozen" at least $30 billion in Libyan assets " as it seeks to deprive embattled leader Moammar Gadhafi of access to government and personal accounts, a department official said." Unclear is what the source of the funds was, where they were held, and whether any US banks would be impacted as a result. Also unclear is whether the US Treasury, which has to rely on a Ponzi check kiting game with the Primary Dealers to fund itself, and, of course, on the Fed to monetize its debt issuance, would confiscate any of this amount. "This is the largest blocking under any sanctions program ever,” said David Cohen, acting undersecretary of Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, during a conference call. “These blocking actions … are depriving Col. Gadhafi access to these assets and safeguarding them for the Libyan people." Since the bulk of the money came from the US and its European allies in the first place, it was supposedly not that difficult to track down.
Jim Rogers joins Zero Hedge in being highly skeptical about just how credible Saudi's call for a 1MM + boost in its oil supply is: "Saudi Arabia has been lying about the reserves for decades. Saudi Arabia the last two times said they are going to increase production and they couldn't increase production. Don't fall for that. The reason oil is going up is the world is running out of known reserves of oil." Of course, then there is the question of do we trust the Quantum fund creator who retired at 37, or do we go with the sellside lemming brigade of monkeys with typewriters who will groupthink anything and everything to death, just to get paid another completely unwarranted bonus. As to those who are concerned that the commodity "bubble" is about to pop, Rogers says: "It's still years away." And some reinforcement for the gold and silver bulls: "Gold will certainly go over $2,000 by the end of the decade, and silver will pass $50." And as a hedge to his great commodity bull market call, Rogers continues to be short Nasdaq stocks. His thesis: "If the economy gets better I am going to make money in commodities, if it doesn't get better, I am going to make money in commodities cause they are going to print huge amounts of money." Call it the adjusted Tepper call.
Of the banks, by the banks and for the banks ...